Electrification is gaining momentum in the auto industry

  • Interviews
  • Jan 30,23
Keeping together traditional technology with the evolving ones, SEG Automotive, a global supplier of powertrain components, has kept market intact. It is involved in innovating components reducing less CO2 emissions. Anil Kumar M R, President and Managing Director, SEG Automotive India shares more about SEG Auto and its development in this interview.
Electrification is gaining momentum in the auto industry

How do you see the progress of SEG Automotive and what key developments took place in the last two years?
Since 1913, the foundation of SEG Automotive is innovation. Staying true to our vision ‘We are the motor – for the mobility of today and tomorrow’, we leverage our core competencies to develop efficient and reliable solutions for our customers. We are actively driving the automobile industry's journey from Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) to Electric Vehicles (EVs) by offering efficient solutions for CO2 reduction – regardless of the powertrain technology.

When Covid-19 hit the world, it created a great degree of uncertainty in the markets. However, we at SEG Automotive used this adversity as an opportunity to work on new innovations in the segments of passenger vehicles, two-wheelers, off-highway, and commercial vehicles. During the pandemic, our switchover to Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI, the latest emission legislations implemented by the Indian government) technology enabled us to expand the business with some important acquisitions in the passenger car segment. At the same time, our engineers continued their innovative thinking by constantly working on newer solutions in the light electric mobility portfolio thus becoming technology leaders and now geared up for high voltage series, as well.

We manage our product portfolio by continuously evaluating the product gaps and investing in new technology and we were successful in launching a high-efficiency generator (BL3), a new start-stop starter motor (C7X) along with a Hub motor for two-wheelers and a high voltage solution for the EV market. In this period SEG can establish itself as a system solution provider (Motor + Controller + Powertrain) and evolve as one point contact for all the customers for future electrification.

What does the auto industry landscape look like at present?
The auto industry is back on its growth trajectory, as Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) will remain in for a longer duration in the Indian market, but electrification is starting to gain momentum in the industry.

At the forefront of this, light mobility segments like two-wheelers (2W), three-wheelers (3W), and small commercial vehicles, along with the mass mobility categories like public transport buses, offer a great opportunity in India. This is due to the usage patterns and a lower dependency on supporting ecosystems like the public charging infrastructure.

Accordingly, market penetration of electric variants is on the rise among different vehicle categories in India. Due to the high market penetration and popularity, it is estimated that the market size will touch USD 152.2 billion by 2030. As SEG we are well poised to cater to the ICE market as well electrification market, as we have a complete localised portfolio to meet all the regulations upcoming in the auto industry. To sustain the momentum seen in electrification, government policies play a significant role for example continuation of the FAME incentive. The current key challenge for this industry would be the acquisition cost which is very high due to the cost of acquisition (mainly due to battery), the entire industry should look at indigenised battery development to achieve sustainability and competitiveness. We need to drive our Prime Minister’s vision of ’Atmanirabhar Bharat’ to make India an export hub for all these futuristic products.

As a supplier to the auto industry, how is your company helping automakers to reduce their pain points?
While electric mobility is gaining popularity and proving beneficial in the light mobility space, the internal combustion engine continues to play a significant role in passenger car applications in the years to come. For this segment, SEG Automotive has a complete portfolio including efficient solutions like start-stop motors, high-efficiency generators, and 48V hybrid solutions for electrification. As SEG we have positioned our strategy under the following categories-

  • Base: As the conventional (ICE engines) market will stay long in India and we continue to improve efficiencies to cater to the stringent regulations in the market, for example, CAFÉ II, and RDE. We were to launch a few products to address the requirement of this market through the launch of the C7X start-stop motors series and high-efficiency generator (BL3) for the passenger market
  • Bridge: As SEG Automotive, we have a boost recuperation machine to cater to the hybrid market requirements. The 2nd generation Boost Recuperation Machine (BRM) and the Electric Machine (EM1.25), which facilitates 48-volt mild hybridisation, offer technology for cost-effectively hybridising gasoline and diesel engines. However, hybrid solutions are for intermediate solutions till we move on to the complete electrified market
  • Breakthrough: Towards ‘zero trail emission’, we offer a complete EV portfolio ranging from 250W to 250kW up to 3 in 1 solution, which enables the auto industry to transform itself into greener mobility.
  • We are well poised to meet the technical requirements of the industry coupled with a complete localised system solutions provider.

    How will an increase in sales of EVs impact component makers?
    For decades, the complexity of many powertrain components was relatively low – both in terms of their mechatronic composition and their integration within the drive.

    With the transition to 48V and high-voltage machines, powertrain components are no longer solely a matter of hardware performance. Mechatronic products are evolving into highly integrated, software-defined systems with significantly greater complexity for OEMs and suppliers. Even in the case of a 48V mild hybrid engine replacing a 12V generator, for example, integration no longer takes place strictly via the subcomponents (mechanics, electronics hardware, software) but in the context of the overarching vehicle system. It is crucial to meet much increased requirements in terms of safety and cyber security, while also keeping overall system complexity manageable despite the high level of connectedness between different components. This creates new demands on suppliers in terms of the technical performance of their products, starting with an efficiency-optimised electromagnetic design of e-drives, and especially regarding the underlying software-driven development process.

    Historically, most component suppliers have their strengths primarily in the area of hardware production. Building up the same kind of expertise for electronics and software is a tough, but necessary challenge to stay competitive in the market. As India is a hub for software development, as SEG Automotive we are happy to say that along with hardware technology development, we are ready with our engineering software solutions to meet the software development requirements. What we feel a few challenges to the industry with increased sales could be,

    - Invest in newer tech with an innovative mindset, as the technology is evolving rapidly
    - Product to solutions movement as single point contact
    - Modular investment in capacities to scale up as penetration would change rapidly based on policy and customer sentiments

    How is your company supporting the developments in the EV industry?
    To combat climate change, mobility faces its greatest transformation, to become green, electrified, and sustainable. We at SEG Automotive are committed to speeding up this vital change by leveraging our 100 years of experience in developing and manufacturing e-motors.

    We are a global partner to the automotive industry, across all powertrain technologies and in the passenger car, commercial vehicle, and 2W and 3W segments. SEG Automotive delivers scalable platform solutions as a system or as individual components. We also offer OEMs a broad range of products and services which includes e-machine engineering, designing and manufacturing of the machine and its components along with software solutions as a single point of contact.

    Coming to light electric mobility, we currently extend system solutions to our customers that include motor, controller and transmission with modular design, scalable for all types of electric 2W, 3W passenger and cargo applications. We offer an efficient and reliable Hub Electric Machine (HEM) series of motors and controllers, ranging from 250W to 4kW on peak power for low and city-speed two-wheeler applications. Our modular, efficient, robust and reliable Light Electric Machine (LEM) series of motors and controllers, which ranges from 2kW to 15kW on peak power, is suitable for high-performance 2W and 3W.

    What are your plans to enhance your business in the auto industry?
    With our customer-centric culture, we keep our promises to the OEMs in the development, launch, and time to market of new product applications. We extend this mindset to our presence in the aftermarket and address the critical needs of our customers in terms of quality, service level and quick time to market. With our growing distribution network, we cater to customer needs in every corner of the country.

    We manage our product portfolio by continuously evaluating the product gaps along with market requirements and continuously investing in new technology. For example, currently, the demand for high-voltage solutions for various segments of higher-load vehicles has started to gain traction in India. Hence, we introduced our High Voltage (HV) series - scalable e-machines in the Auto Expo’2023 that set standards in terms of smooth operation and efficiency, thus maximising the vehicle range.

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