Report: P.Tharyan, Photography: Mohd. Nasir
Interview with Dharmesh Arora , President & CEO, President
Automotive, Schaeffler India
Dr Robert Felger , Senior VP Product & Marketing, Business Division
Automotive Aftermarket, Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket, Germany
Michael Soding, President, Business Division Automotive Aftermarket,
Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket, Germany
Can you give us a
brief overview of the Shaeffler group?
Dharmesh Arora (DA):
In India, we have a business of over Rs 3000 crore of which 50pc is Automotive
and 50pc is Industrial. Both of them are growing fairly well. Maybe Automotive
is growing a tad faster than the Industrial business. Over a period of time,
maybe this is skewed in favour of Automotive. Within Automotive, the
Aftermarket contributes around 20 pc of our business, the remaining 80pc comes
from OEM business.
In the Aftermarket,
what are your offerings in the country?
Dr Robert Felger
(RF): We offer all the range we have
in the OE, also in the Aftermaket which includes engine components and also
wheel bearings of all shapes and sizes.
With more of
electronics getting into vehicles, is it becoming more challenging to address
the aftermarket needs?
Michael Soding (MS):
Absolutely, that is why next to the products we bring to the market we always think
as to what it takes for the workshop to do a professional job so that the end
user can get things rectified in the first visit. Next to the products, we have
all the training and the tools and all the data that needs to make the repair.
For example, a clutch repair takes six to eight hours, so you can imagine how
much skill the person in the workshop needs to really make a decent repair. One
can visit our web expert online and also information on the tools to carry out
the right repairs. We also need to take a close look at the logistics that is
involved. With the number of models of cars, for example, increasing, the
forecast for a particular product in the aftermarket is getting to be more
difficult. We need to maintain a strong link with our distributors when it
comes to meeting this demand for an aftermarket product. Also there is a need
for a very intelligent forecasting system to be developed for meeting future
demand of products.
Can you throw some
light on the different exercises you do in the Aftermarket to keep it robust?
RF: Technology is
getting ever more complex. Yes, educating the workshop people is a key factor
to get to good quality maintenance, and good quality service. For a global
player like us it is mandatory that we train and reach out to mechanics in
workshops. We do factory visits to show how quality product is produced. We do
specific trainings. We also do medical camps for mechanics. We will launch a
web expert model that allows an individual to see fitting instructions online at
the point of service and at the moment of service.
Are mindsets changing
in India when it comes to Aftermarket repairs and services? Is that wayside
mechanic still a great force to reckon with?
DA: Until a few
years ago even a Maruti 800 was driven maybe by a chauffeur and the owner sat
behind in the small little car. Things are changing and people now love driving
their cars. As this is happening, their expectation, as to who touches their
precious investment is also changing. I increasingly feel that the owners will
be making the decision as to where the cars will need to be serviced. They
would rather go to the organised sector rather than having someone in the
street fixing it. Nevertheless, we have a great presence in the marketplace and
we work with people on the street because we have the education programmes,
competency development programmes, but we see that shift happening in the
coming years in the country.
What about the
unorganised sector, is this sector upgrading their skills?
MS: It is mandatory
because the cars you are driving are getting more and more complex. There is no
simple approach to a simple repair in a complex car. Thus, you need to have a
basic requirement, and it may be a surprise for you because there the Indian
market is no different to any other global market. Together with the OEs, we
bring the latest technology into the latest models. A couple of years later
that technology needs better skills in the aftermarket. The need for upgrading
your competences is the very same in any
given market. By the way, whenever there is a new technology, the independent
workshop is somewhat hesitant to touch it unless he is skilled and trained to
Coming to the 2015
ACMA Automechanika, do you feel that it’s getting better in terms of business
enquiries, crowd participation, etc?
RF: Obviously the
target group we have in mind here is somewhat different than the target group
we have in mind in a place, for example, like Frankfurt. But the fact there is
a show on its own, dedicated for the needs of the Automotive Aftermarket,
already is a strong signal of how much this market has grown. Ten years ago, we
were a sub set of an auto show with a back door entrance for the aftermarket
people inside the supplier arena. Now we have an Aftermarket show and the size
of the show has doubled. The awareness and attractiveness for our customer are
growing strongly. This year we are doing a technical training for workshop
people during the weekend. We have to see how many technicians and workshop
owners we are going to attract. This is
going to be a new activity for us.
With a new government
in place in India, do you see the Indian auto industry growing rapidly?
DA: There are no
two views about that. In the long terms this market will grow. All the
indicators that are required for the auto industry to grow, exists in India.
You talk of demographics, you talk about increasing GDP, the growing middle
class, and the growing aspirations of the people in India, all these indicate a
positive growth. The basic ingredients are in place. You can argue why the last
two years were not good. But with the new government coming in, the sentiments
have been put in the right place. The year 2014 was all about having the right
sentiments, putting the right vision in place, but 2015 will be crucial. We
expect that the industry will come back, what we are getting to know from the
OEMs is that the second quarter will be better growth.
Personally for us we have been using the time to build our
competencies, ensuring that we continue to expand our portfolio so that we are
in place to offer the complete range when the market gets better. Last year
Shaeffler India grew by 17 to 18pc and that was primarily because we increased
our product lines.
Are your product
lines available in India too, or is India still has a long way to go when it
comes to having hi-tech products for their cars?
MS: There is a
typical German answer which is a mixture of yes and no. If you look at
automatic transmissions in the US which is 90pc of the market, we would not say
that this trend would come to India. But when you talk of technology supporting
fuel reduction, emissions reductions, NVH reductions, then India is in the
middle of the global development. The mega trends are the same, the solutions
to the market differ.