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HYBRIDISATION TECHNOLOGY IN AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY We drive local solutions to seize local opportunities

Jan 19, 2022

…mentions Anil Kumar, Managing Director and President, SEG Automotive India, in his interview with Anvita Pillai. He discusses how SEG, which stands for more than a century of innovations, from the invention of the starter motor and generator to start/stop, adapted to the challenges of the pandemic, its new 48V/mild hybridisation technology, the new Hosur plant and more. Excerpts…

Being a supplier for the global automotive market, how have the challenges from the pandemic enabled you to improve your approach to business? How is SEG working on keeping its supply chain agile through the pandemic’s uncertainty?

The pandemic has impacted every sphere of economic activity globally; the automotive industry is not an exception. For us, the health and safety of our employees were of utmost importance. We proactively took all the possible steps within and outside the company to keep our employees protected. We also set a task force in place which was accountable for establishing new manufacturing practices ensuring social distancing, with suitable transformations on the assembly lines. In these challenging times, our business partners were also affected. By communicating best practices and offering resources to handle fluctuating demands, we made sure our partners could also adapt to the new normal and meet the ramped-up requirements. The pandemic has also caused several blockages in the supply chain, both locally and globally. We are dealing with this in a very agile pattern by de-risking specific components with multiple sourcing. We have established unique ways to support and sustain our customers. For instance, improving the rate of localisation, virtual validations with real life conditions, embracing digitisation and making all our processes virtual, etc. The pandemic has remarkably enhanced the rate of transitions to these alternate approaches, displaying resilience in operations.

Can you elaborate on your 48 V/mild hybrid drive technology and why automotive OEMs should adopt it? What benefits does the technology entail?

As per current forecasts, in India, more than 90% of newly registered passenger cars will still have an internal combustion engine in 2025, and greater than 70% globally. The objective for these ICE vehicles must be to maintain CO2 emissions as low as possible. It is becoming evident that it will not merely be a transition from traditional combustion engines to EVs. Instead, the previous 12V vehicles will be substituted by a combination of 48V hybrids and EVs, the best solutions for the climate depending on the scenario. Objectively, a 48V hybrid is a promising solution in many markets today, as it preserves up to 15% in fuel and CO2.

48V hybridisation came up as a cost-effective, easy-to-integrate solution to create an instantaneous result to achieve climate goals and meet CO2 legislation targets. Its Boost Recuperation Machine (BRM) supersedes the conventional generator in its place on the belt to turn conventional combustion engines into mild hybrids, greatly diminishing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The latest EM 1.25 carries the concept of 48V to a new level. The 25-kW e-machine can be incorporated flexibly throughout the powertrain, from the gearbox (P2, P3) to the rear-axle (P4), relying on the architecture favoured by the customer, ultimately enhancing the fuel economy and reducing CO2 emissions under real life conditions.

Given the increasing need for customisation, how difficult/easy is it to deliver customised products from customer to customer? How has the demand profile evolved over the years?

For us, the key product platform development takes place on a global scale with the participation of every region with market and customer requirement inputs. These platforms are developed with thorough analysis based on our customers’ current and future needs and analysing the legislative roadmaps in all regions. According to unified global quality standards, the platforms are built with local participation and application development. In addition, we also drive local solutions to seize local opportunities, as we do with our light e-mobility at SEG Automotive India.

With 30+ years of local experience in the Indian market, our research and development team can adopt global platforms for local needs while developing innovative solutions for specific local requirements. For example, protecting the starter motor against field abuse by innovative thermal protection features. The customer dedicated application teams ensure the launch of robust products with the shortest lead times. The state-of-the-art R&D centre is globally integrated to meet local and global requirements.

SEG planned on making its Hosur plant operational by the second half of 2021. How far along has that project come? Can you divulge a bit into the plant capacity and facility set-up?

Our Hosur plant has been fully operational from the second quarter of 2021. The principles of ‘lean’ drive manufacturing at SEG Automotive. The ‘lean line design principles’ used in manufacturing lines are globally standardised, and the processes are released globally by lead plants within the international production network. The need for capacities is reviewed frequently and is addressed effectively with the help of our international production network, ensuring our valuable customer’s requirements are met.

Localisation is the motto India is driving on right now. What is your current level of localisation? How are you working on entrenching it further?

SEG Automotive has nearly three decades of expertise in the local market. With a well-established domestic supply chain and in-depth localisation of components, our India division delivers ‘Make in India’ products and services to its customer base in the country and across the globe.

We also play a prominent role as an export hub for the global business of our company, and to cater to this requirement, we continuously evaluate and develop the competence of our business partners with our strong processes and systems. We qualify our business partners to meet the global standards required for our operations and our customers globally.

What is SEG’s outlook for 2022? What plan of action is being traced to strengthen your market presence?

While electric mobility is gaining popularity and proving beneficial in the light mobility space, ICE will continue to play a significant role in passenger car applications in the years to come. Our highly efficient platforms, combined with our locally manufactured transmission solutions are robustly built to meet the varied needs of the final application and offer one-stop powertrain solutions for light electric vehicles. Our specific protection features and increased robustness enable machines to withstand the tough operating conditions on Indian roads easily.

In addition, in 2022, we plan to further expand our investments in high-voltage electrification. While, for now, it is yet to scale up in the Indian market, we are still committed to expanding our market leadership from the 12V and 48V segments also to become a globally strong player for HV e-machines.

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  • Anil Kumar M R, before being MD and Regional President for the Indian operations of SEG Automotive, held the same responsibilities within the Bosch Group for Starter Motors and Generators division since 2011. Kumar pursued his Bachelor of Engineering, Electronics and Communication from BMS College of Engineering and his Master of Business Administration – Marketing from Bangalore University.

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