By T Murrali:
The technology company Continental is increasing its manufacturing footprint and is enhancing its product portfolio to suit the emerging regulations in India and technological developments globally.
Continental is building a green field plant in Talegaon, Pune, to expand its powertrain business. The company plans to invest around 30 million euros (Rs 240 crore) in infrastructure and buildings until 2020. Commercial production of various drivetrain products, including engine management systems, sensors and actuators as well as fuel and exhaust management components, for passenger cars, two-wheelers and commercial vehicles, is scheduled for early 2020.
Klaus Hau, Executive Vice President, Powertrain Components Business Unit, Continental, during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new plant, said, “India plays a central role in our global growth strategy. Due to the increasingly stringent emission legislation in the automotive market, including two-wheeler market, we expect growing demand for low-emission technologies. Through this investment, we are expanding our involvement in this strategic market to ensure that we will better satisfy the customers.” The Powertrain group of Continental offers efficiency solutions for the conventional combustion engine, the exhaust after-treatment as well as for the broad field of vehicle electrification.
Prashanth Doreswamy, Market Head, Continental India, and Managing Director, Continental Automotive India, said, “This investment reinforces our commitment to the Indian market. Continental has been growing ahead of the market in India. To continue doing so, we need to invest both in technologies of tomorrow, and expand our reach in the market. With this investment in our Powertrain business, Continental will better support India’s drive for cleaner air.”
Speaking to AutoParts Asia, Doreswamy said, three megatrends in the automotive industry are giving investment opportunities for Continental. “The first is the natural market growth for the existing products. The second is the increase in electronic content and consumer preference for new products with their content per vehicle getting bigger. Finally, the growth triggered by the mandatory regulations such as ABS, BS-VI,” he added.
With the new regulations coming in the form of BS-VI, the company sees huge scope, especially in fuel injection systems for two-wheelers. Today the company does not have any business with two-wheeler Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) system. As the vehicle makers in this segment are preparing to comply with the new regulations, the company hopes to add substantial volumes across two-wheeler OEMs and help them migrate to EFI along with fuel supply unit. Besides, the NOX requirement and the need to manage high temperatures, will also give more business opportunities for Continental, he said.
For after-treatment, especially with the catalytic filters, the current volume is expected to grow two-to-three folds, as the number of bricks required by the OEMs to meet the BS-VI norms will substantially increase.
Another area where the company sees an opportunity to increase content per vehicle is for its rubber group – ContinTech India, which is a specialist in rubber and plastic technology. “People are moving away from leather to leatherite or synthetic leather, and we are one of the world leaders in this product. So we are localising its production. That will be an additional content. Now we serve our customers in a small way with imports; but with localisation this will go up,” he said.
Tyre and lighting are the other areas where Continental is expecting growth. Now all lighting systems are controlled by body control module, and increase in lighting will boost the business in the light control module for Continental. “Globally we have a joint venture with Osram to cater to this market,” Doreswamy said.
As Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is set to become mandatory in 2022, Continental is expecting to see growth on that front. It has some traction for high-end vehicles for ESC. “As we grow there will be additional growth for autonomous features,” he said.
About the tests on Real Driving Cycle (RDC) that may come two or three years after implementing BS-VI, Doreswamy said, currently the company has two plants to make catalytic filters and fuel delivery modules. With BS-VI, advancement in technology has been significant in the type of bricks used in catalytic filters. New types of bricks are coming in to create different types of turbulence so that it becomes more efficient. With the fuel delivery modules, for both diesel and gasoline engines, the OEMs will be interested in optimising the fuel combustion efficiency further. In order to support these emerging requirements, Continental has demand-regulated fuel delivery module, which may become a necessity for the vehicle manufacturers. This system, supported with electronics, will help vary the demand of fuel supply based on the engine’s requirements. It can be calibrated by the OEMs depending on the drive requirements.
The demand to contain ammonia leakage in SCRs is also increasing from the vehicle manufacturers. The company has solutions to support the requirements, he said.
Continental has invested approximately Euro 260 million (INR 2,100 crore) in India since 2008 on its various businesses. The company supports all its major automotive customers in the transition to BS-VI emission standards, and continues to make investments in enhancing combustion engines and electro-mobility. Continental has recently announced an additional R&D facility in its existing automotive plant in Gurgaon.
Continental, globally, rates its manufacturing units as Gold, Silver and Bronze, depending on how sustainable the plants are. Its plant in Bengaluru has moved to the Silver level. “We are designing this plant to meet Gold standards,” Doreswamy said. The unit has capacities for rain water harvesting, zero discharge of water and efficient electricity consumption.