LANXESS India Pvt Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of LANXESS Deutschland GmbH and a leader in specialty chemicals, is focused on fostering environment-friendly mobility or green mobility in India through a range of products it manufactures for the Indian auto industry. In an interview, Joerg Strassburger, Country Representative and Managing Director, LANXESS India, says the future offers opportunities for growth as well as the need for more fuel-efficient and light-weight models. Excerpts:
In the Interim Budget, the auto industry received a cut in excise duty. As a supplier to auto manufacturers, do you see this affecting your business?
The cut in the excise duty has been well-received by consumers and manufacturers, and is expected to revive sentiment, encouraging people to buy automobiles. Given the low per capita consumption of cars in India compared to developed countries, the automotive industry will grow in the long-term. The International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers estimated in 2011 that with seven million units by 2017, India is projected to overtake Japan, Germany and Korea, to become the third largest market. Market weakness is likely to be temporary. As a key global supplier to the automotive and tyre industries, LANXESS will continue to strengthen its market position in order to capitalise on this growth.
The Indian Government has notified mandatory fuel efficiency norms for the automobile industry. What are your thoughts on this?
Of the more than 80 car models plying on Indian roads at present, only around eight comply with fuel efficiency standards. We, at LANXESS, can contribute to achieve targets with products like high-tech plastics and high-performance rubber. One of the primary benefits of using high-tech plastics in cars is that they make them lighter by replacing metal parts that are many times heavier. . This promotes green mobility, with lower fuel consumption and thus lowers carbon dioxide emissions.
What is LANXESS’ strategy of bringing the new technology of metal-plastic combination to India and how feasible is it for Indian OEMs in terms of cost and light weighting?
We have seen the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) experience a cost reduction of around 20 per cent and weight reduction of around 40 per cent by using this technology. More importantly, high dimensional accuracy of parts due to the usage of plastics helps in the integration of other parts (modular concept) in the front-end with the radiator, air cooler, head lamps, grille and horn at the tier-1 supplier’s end.
The metal-plastic combination technology will open up newer applications in automotive engineering for Indian cars. Options like replacement of the structural components of automobiles with plastics or metal-plastic hybrid components are now a possibility which has been hitherto only steel or metal-based. Auto makers like Tata Motors, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Ford use our Durethan product range.
Besides, in India we have projects in the pipeline as well as in the planning stages for converting several metal parts into plastics such as air intake manifolds, oil module, door handles, oil pans, coolant water pipes, fuel tanks, thermostat housing and fuel rail. These parts have already been successfully replaced with Durethan or Pocan in Europe, Japan and the US.
Tell us more about the concept of green mobility and how LANXESS can help auto/CV manufacturers change basic mobility to green mobility?
The automotive industry has impressively improved on performance and supporting technology in the last decade. This increasing level of global mobility requires new, sustainable solutions. As a technological leader in the field of specialty chemicals, we develop applications that make green mobility possible. While speaking of green mobility, it is worth taking a closer look when choosing tyres, because they differ significantly in terms of quality and this can affect key driving characteristics. Green tyres have a much lower rolling resistance than conventional tyres and deliver sustained peak performance. Additionally, LANXESS’ high-tech plastics and composites are used in countless vehicle applications with increasing frequency.
Where do you see the chemical industry in India in the next 10 years?
There are four mega-trends that we believe will continue to drive the chemical industry, more so in the emerging economies globally; namely, mobility, urbanisation, water and agriculture. The challenges lie in the areas of infrastructure, manpower and support from the administration. The availability of continuous power supply and natural gas, connections to common sewage and effluent treatment plants from the sites, good connectivity to major industrial clusters by highways, ports and airports are some of the quintessential infrastructure requirements that the industry currently needs.
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