Report: Rahul Kapoor, Photography: Mohd. Nasir
Wabco is a leading global supplier of commercial vehicle
technologies. Your company has in the past been part of truck racing events in
Europe. But the trucks here at the Buddh International Circuit for the T1 Prima
Truck Racing Championship were stock vehicles with very ordinary engines. How
was the experience, especially as a braking technology partner?
I would not compare to Europe, obviously this year there is more
horsepower and higher speeds, but I don't think it can be compared to Europe.
It is the only truck racing event in Asia. It is a leading event for the
industry. It showcases technologies that are important on commercial vehicles
around the world because arguably this is the most extreme conditions you can
face with a commercial vehicle and here you're demonstrating very important
technologies. The braking systems, including the Anti-Lock Braking Systems that
will be mandated by the Indian government by the end of this year will be a major
contributor to road safety.
Wabco products have been an integral part of truck racing abroad.
Did these races immensely help your company in its research and development? What
were the learnings for your company in these European races?
The products that we equip these trucks with are not specially
designed for these racing trucks. It enforces that the products that we produce
in our factories for all production trucks around the world are capable of such
We hear that Wabco is trying to work with the Indian Government to
make Indian roads safer through Wabco’s technology. Could you shed some light
We are always ready to support a government across the world to
increase safety. You have to realise that here in India is only 1pc of trucks
that are running on global roads but unfortunately, India generates 8pc of the
fatalities. This is very disproportionate and I think that there are a lot of
initiatives that we can help the Indian government with to equip truck, busses
and trailers with some basic [safety] equipment and later on some sophisticated
equipment to address this issue. There is an objective today to save 200,000
lives in the next five years.
With five world-class manufacturing facilities, a software design
centre and your own test track in India, how has your Indian experience been?
Do you think this segment is beginning to see a change, especially with foreign
players like Volvo, Scania, MAN, Daimler, etc getting aggressive here?
First of all you have to put things in the right perspective. Wabco
products and systems cost an average of $3000 per truck in Europe. In Asia, and
India in particular, it will average $500 per truck by next year or so, growing
from $250 per truck a couple of years ago. So there is room for safety and
efficiency of commercial vehicles here. Now rightfully as you said, those
foreign manufacturers particularly coming from Europe bring new standards in
technology, reliability and safety. The industry here [India] is growing its
standards across the board and we are obviously very happy to support that. I think
there is still a lot of room for further improvement but again we are very
proud to help this industry in this part of the world to bring more safety on
the roads with commercial vehicles.
Late last year you inaugurated your fifth plant in Lucknow for
supply of Advanced Braking Technologies to major truck manufacturers? What are
these advanced braking technologies, can you throw some light on it? Besides,
which companies are you supplying to in India? Does it have a potential for
We are supplying, very frankly, not only India but we are supplying
to customers all across the world. Here in India in particular, the latest
advanced technologies that we are introducing are ABS, a technology that Wabco
brought into the world of commercial vehicle in 1981 and we have since built 17
million of those. This shows how important it is for the industry. We are also
introducing the AMT systems which will enable fuel saving as well as making it
easier to drive a truck. When you don't have to focus on shifting gear, it will
allow the driver to obviously focus on what is going on around the truck
enhancing safety. We are also discussing about collision mitigating systems,
lane departure warning systems, all those technologies have proven to be
incredibly efficient to decrease accidents. For example Wabco introduced for
the first time again the collision mitigating system in the US and it has
proven since then that the 100,000 systems we have sold have decreased the rear
end collision by 80pc.
Wabco India is the largest employer of Wabco employees in the world.
We have in excess of 3.000 people here for 11,000 global population of Wabco
which is very strong. About 40pc of revenues of Wabco India actually support
the global network outside of India. We export a lot of different products to
all the different parts of our business like in Japan, Europe, US and even
China. So Wabco India is and will grow further as a major hub for product
development and manufacturing.
Very briefly, how has your India experience been? Do you feel that
the Indian truck industry is beginning to get its act together in bringing out
world class products?
Obviously the economy has had some issues a couple of years ago. It
impacted our industry a lot. The number of trucks built melted down to 45-50pc.
We have started to recover very nicely, last year with very strong growth. I
think India is on a very good path to improve the economy and I think that will
result again in a very strong momentum for the industry. We are predicting very
strong growth this year. I see India for a long term as a very, very strong
source of business for our industry.
Lastly, there are talks of truck racing perhaps happening in south
of India too, more closer to your own track. Indian drivers too could be taking
part in such races. Do we see Wabco playing a larger role in such races,
perhaps having your own racing team, like the way you do abroad?
We always find ways to support our customers in their initiatives to
showcase technologies because that what is going on here [at the T1 Prima Truck
Racing Championship]. Our main customer in India [Tata Motors] wants to
showcase and demonstrate that their truck can sustain the environment of the
race which is again an extreme for our vehicles. We are certainly ready to support
any customer who wants to join this important communication vector to convince
people that this industry is making superb efforts to enhance the overall
efficiency around the world.