Electrification will become growth driver for Dana India

  • Interviews
  • Jan 31,23
In this interview with Rakesh Rao, Gajanan Gandhe, Country Head & VP, Dana India, elaborates on the company's India business and trends in the auto industry.
Electrification will become growth driver for Dana India

Though electric vehicles (EVs) account for less than 1 percent of annual car sales in India at present, the market is headed for a robust growth. To meet the growing electrification demand, the US-based Dana Incorporated provides technologies and solutions for entire electric powertrain system or individual components. In this interview with Rakesh Rao, Gajanan Gandhe, Country Head & Vice President, Dana India, elaborates on the company's India business and trends in the auto industry.

How is Dana serving the growth of the Indian auto industry?
Dana now supports three core business segments -- light vehicles (largely SUVs and pickup trucks), commercial vehicles (medium-duty to Class 8) and off-highway (mining, agriculture, material handling and construction). Our operations in India, across 18 facilities, support driveline solutions for all three of these three end-markets, with technologies that include drive systems, sealing, and thermal components. For India, Dana is working on several programs that impact the Indian market and is focused on improving performance and efficiency, and more importantly total cost of ownership and vehicle electrification.

Our manufacturing and engineering teams in India are developing solutions that meet the needs of local and regional customers while at times supporting our global operations using specialised capabilities.

What does the auto industry landscape look like at present?
India surpassed Japan in auto sales volumes in 2022 and is ranked third globally as the Nikkei Asia reports indicated. According to Mordor Intelligence report, India's automotive market was valued at $ 100 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $ 160 billion in 2027, registering a CAGR of 8.1 per cent over the forecast period (2022-2027).

Globally, electrification has long-term growth prospects for the mobility industry, but is occurring at different rates across regional markets and product segments. These adoption rates can be influenced by regional regulation, total cost of ownership for end consumers, infrastructure, and R&D investment. For India, the subsidies offered by the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME I and FAME II) policies, and the ‘Make in India’ policy will help kick off the electrification industry by bringing the manufacturing of batteries, motors, inverters, power controllers, and other accessories into India. We strongly believe that EVs have a large role to play in the Indian market, and therefore, are making investments in India for EV.

In the Indian market, two wheelers, small commercial vehicles, and passenger vehicles have shown signs of recovering, and aftermarket sales demand has grown due to train transportation being suspended during the pandemic, increasing the reliance on commercial vehicles. The Indian off-highway segment appears to be rebounding with expected improvements in construction and agriculture in the near term.

Right now, EVs account for less than 1 percent of annual car sales in India, and there is a steep import duty on EVs. Fostering an environment where the segment is seen as desirable and affordable could pave the way for increase in demand, and that would have a ripple effect on EV domestic component manufacturing.

As a supplier to the auto industry, how is your company helping automakers to reduce their pain points?
As our customers turn toward electrification, we have equipped ourselves with all of the technologies and capabilities required for entire electric powertrain system or individual components. This means that customers can rely on us to provide a seamless, complete solution or something tailored to their design specifications, accelerating their time to market.

How will increase in sales of electric vehicles (EVs) impact component makers?
As the demand is fast increasing for EVs, the suppliers’ channel must come together. Even though energy storage solutions first come to our minds when we discuss a sustainable EV supplier ecosystem, it is equally crucial to integrate the automotive components makers.

How is your company supporting the developments in the EV industry?
The Indian market remains an important one for Dana and we continue to make strategic investments to support our strategies across the light vehicle, commercial vehicle and off-highway markets.

We opened a manufacturing site for motors and inverters for electric vehicles in a 75,000 square-feet facility in Pune, India. It is a result of growing our electrification business by leveraging the capabilities we have acquired with our in-house engineering expertise and will produce the Dana TM4 low- to high-voltage electric motors, inverters, and vehicle control units for electric vehicles.

As a result, we are poised to serve as a preferred supplier with in-house capabilities to deliver complete and fully integrated e-Propulsion systems to OEM customers across all mobility markets, including for buses and trucks. Dana has also made a strategic investment in Switch Mobility (a subsidiary of Ashok Leyland). Dana is now the preferred supplier of electric drivetrain components for the company’s e-bus and EV commercial vehicle offering, providing e-Axles, gearboxes, motors, inverters, software and controls, and electronics cooling. The shift toward electrification has benefitted Dana strongly. It has helped us, in some cases, double the content per vehicle we are able to offer.

As we continue to see strong growth with our customers, we have already started and plan to continue to expand production capacity to support new customer programmes at nearly all of our facilities in India, including Sanand, Noida, Pune, among others. In operations, our plan is to use software and sensors to help provide detailed visibility into our manufacturing processes across our global operations. The assembly lines in our new Pune plant will be equipped with a manufacturing execution system (MES), which enables us to ensure proper tracking of all processes.

For R&D, Dana operates two technology centres in India. Our facility in Pune supports all our product groups with development of new products with over 250 engineers, while our operations in Sanand are focused on shifting solutions for the off-highway markets. Together they help us maintain our lead as a supplier of drive and motion systems, including motors, inverters, and traditional axles, and a robust offering of sealing and thermal management offerings, including cylinder head gaskets, oil plans, and thermal acoustical protective shielding.

How do you see the impact of other fuels (like biofuels, hydrogen, fuel cells, etc) on the component & solution providers for the auto industry?
Dana has designed our portfolio to be energy-source agnostic. The drive system may have some variation, but largely the purpose of our offering remains the same, no matter the fuel source. We have also been working with bipolar plates for fuel stacks for more than a decade, which enables us to support customers with even further value, if they choose to pursue that approach.

What are your growth plans for India?
As we continue to see strong growth with our customers, we have already started and plan to continue to expand production capacity to support new customer programs at nearly all our 18 facilities in India, including Sanand, Noida, Pune, among others.

Dana’s business in India is balanced across our three end markets – light vehicle, commercial vehicle, and off-highway. The growth is largely driven by opportunities in the off-highway segment, particularly agriculture and commercial vehicles.

In the future, we expect electrification to become a driver for growth as we ramp up global production of motors and inverters to support new customer programs. Dana has made strategic investments in electrification, including the acquisition of Pi Innovo LLC, a leader in embedded software solutions and electronics control units for the light-vehicle, commercial-vehicle, and off-highway markets. The acquisition of Pi Innovo enables Dana to increase its in-house electrodynamics capabilities and electrification product portfolio by adding a strong library of turn-key electric vehicle application software, vehicle level controllers, and auxiliary controllers.

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