Mahin­dra works in syn­ergy with group Co. for pow­er­train de­vel­op­ment

Auto components India - - CON­TENTS - Text by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

Mahin­dra Trucks and Buses Ltd. is work­ing with many group com­pa­nies like Mahin­dra Re­search Val­ley (MRV) for new de­vel­op­ments in the ar­eas of en­gine, clutch, trans­mis­sion, af­tertreat­ment, CNG and other al­ter­nate fuel modes. “We have a lot of syn­er­gies play­ing out in the group. The chal­lenge is how do we lever­age these syn­er­gies. As a Group we are get­ting bet­ter. We are look­ing at syn­er­gies that are ben­e­fi­cial for both,” Venkat Srini­vas, Vice Pres­i­dent and Head, Engi­neer­ing and Prod­uct De­vel­op­ment, Mahin­dra Trucks and Buses Ltd., told Au­toCom­po­nents In­dia.

“We carry out ap­pli­ca­tion at the Pune cen­tre. MRV de­vel­oped DigiSense in as­so­ci­a­tion with Bosch and Tech Mahin­dra. The speed of de­vel­op­ment at Tech Mahin­dra is such that we have to un­der­stand it to lever­age it. We are go­ing to have tech­nol­ogy days on our premises where they will tell us about rel­e­vant tech­nol­ogy. This will help us to iden­tify quickly the lev­els at which we can as­so­ciate. We have dealt with our sup­plier base to en­sure that the air­less SCR sys­tem is price com­pet­i­tive. The ‘fu­els­mart’ tech­nol­ogy on trucks helped us un­der­stand how cus­tomers use their CVs, HGVs in par­tic­u­lar, in var­i­ous road loads and ap­pli­ca­tions. We are also very keen to un­der­stand what and how tech­nolo­gies can be rel­e­vant,” he said.

Chal­lenges of BS VI

For the ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers there will be huge chal­lenges, and op­por­tu­ni­ties with the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the BS VI norms. “It was the same in the in­stance of BS IV. We got an op­por­tu­nity to dif­fer­en­ti­ate our­selves. For in­stance, we have been of­fer­ing com­mon-rail tech­nol­ogy on our prod­ucts as a Group for over 10 years. The ex­pe­ri­ence and syn­er­gies we have had as a Group have helped us. The syn­er­gies in the area of pow­er­train have helped us to get a good start. We have been of­fer­ing BS III LCVs with com­mon­rail en­gine tech­nol­ogy. We have a lot of ap­pli­ca­tion knowl­edge, not just at MRV. It was de­vel­oped as BS III emis­sion norms came into force. We had some pre-Blazo ve­hi­cles – HGVs, in the mar­ket. These were 40 tonne trac­tors. When we launched the BS III Blazo a year and a half ago, we built upon that ex­pe­ri­ence. We added fuel-smart tech­nol­ogy to turn the whole equa­tion into a highly suc­cess­ful ex­pe­ri­ence. It gave us the con­fi­dence to of­fer the mileage guar­an­tee. No truck has come back in that re­gards. The move to BS IV made com­mon-rail tech­nol­ogy a ne­ces­sity. A de­bate on EGR and SCR played out at the ear­lier stages.

It was im­por­tant to fi­nalise the ar­chi­tec­ture. EGR is a good op­tion for smaller ve­hi­cles be­cause of the power to weight ra­tio. A 5-tonne LCV typ­i­cally op­er­ates with 70 hp en­gine in the In­dian con­text. It sig­nals a power to weight ra­tio of 14 hp per tonne. While the load­ing in smaller ve­hi­cles is of­ten par­tial, it is ex­actly the op­po­site in big­ger and heav­ier ve­hi­cles. The power to weight ra­tio of a 49-tonne truck in an In­dian con­text is be­tween 4 and 4.5 hp per tonne. The en­gine is op­er­at­ing at full load most of the time. If EGR tech­nol­ogy is ap­plied, it brings com­pro­mises. A 100% fuel air mix­ture is not pro­vided to the en­gine. Ex­haust gas re­cir­cu­la­tion is 15 to 18%. The en­gine is not burn­ing as much fuel in a duty cy­cle. The re­sult is less out­put. Ther­mal ef­fi­ciency goes down. Car­bon de­posits rise. En­gine life also goes down. We chose the newer gen­er­a­tion air­less SCR. This tech­nol­ogy will help us to mi­grate to BS VI,” Srini­vas said.

Ad­van­tages of air­less SCR

Air­less SCR uses less power over an air-as­sisted sys­tem. Per­for­mance of air­less SCR is bet­ter. There are fewer parts and less com­plex­ity. Re­li­a­bil­ity is high, and the cost of ser­vice is low. “We dealt with our sup­plier base to en­sure that the air­less SCR sys­tem is price com­pet­i­tive. We had to make the busi­ness case work in­ter­nally for us. The choice of air­less SCR makes sense as far as our cus­tomers are con­cerned. Air­less SCR is eas­ier and costs less to ser­vice. Our move to BS VI will not en­tail an en­gine change. Many en­gines be­tween 5-and 6-litre ca­pac­ity will be ex­tremely un­der­pow­ered as BS VI units,” he said.

The cost to grad­u­ate to BS VI tech­nol­ogy is ex­pected to go up. “From that point of view, we are car­ry­ing for­ward our en­gines ex­cept for 1 en­gine in our LCV range. We will carry for­ward our choice of tech­nol­ogy. Our BS VI com­pli­ant HCV range will be sup­ported by our 7.2-litre en­gine. We will go with SCR, and with dif­fer­ent cal­i­bra­tions. There will be the ad­di­tion of DPF. There will be cost ad­di­tion. The cost delta for dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers will be dif­fer­ent. We would be lev­er­ag­ing the in­vest­ments we have made,” Srini­vas said.

There is also an op­por­tu­nity to de­velop more pow­er­ful en­gines to tap new and heav­ier CV seg­ments, depend­ing on the growth of such seg­ments. “We also have to con­sider that we are not that large an or­gan­i­sa­tion at the back- end ei­ther. We have am­bi­tious plans. We do have some plat­forms to con­sider. We have to pick our bat­tles in the con­text of pri­or­ity. There are gaps in our port­fo­lio that we need to fill up. ICVs and some more play in buses,” he said.

New tech­nol­ogy for buses

M&M has been hav­ing a suc­cess­ful run un­like in the staff bus seg­ment. “We are work­ing to­wards im­prov­ing the prod­uct port­fo­lio in the staff bus seg­ment. In the cur­rent port­fo­lio of up to 40 seats, we have de­vel­oped a wider body bus. It mea­sures 2.5 m in width over 2.2 m of a con­ven­tional bus body. The wider body bus will help us in staff trans­porta­tion. It will also en­able us to of­fer other bus body, chas­sis and pow­er­train level changes. To suit the re­quire­ments bet­ter, there will be wider seats, and bet­ter el­bow room on of­fer. There will be chas­sis level im­prove­ments to achieve su­pe­rior NVH and com­fort. Air sus­pen­sion is on of­fer as an op­tion too. Mi­gra­tion to a new plat­form is a part of the strat­egy. There will be mi­gra­tion to ICV type of buses. We will also of­fer new pow­er­train for ICVs – for trucks and buses. In case of al­ter­nate fuel tech­nol­ogy, we are al­ready of­fer­ing CNG. LNG has been in the news. Dis­tri­bu­tion is still a chal­lenge. LNG stor­age and de­liv­ery in ve­hi­cle is ex­pen­sive. We are work­ing to crack that prob­lem. LNG ser­vices are be­ing pi­loted at Kochi, and avail­abil­ity to LNG is likely to get bet­ter along the west coast. LNG en­gine tech­nol­ogy is not a chal­lenge. Chal­lenge con­cerns its dis­tri­bu­tion. As far as the en­gine is con­cerned, there’s not much change be­tween a CNG and LNG cal­i­bra­tion. LNG calls for the pack­ag­ing of one large tank. Since it is in a com­pressed form, it should give a good range. Some weight re­duc­tion is pos­si­ble on an LNG ve­hi­cle when com­pared to a CNG ve­hi­cle. LNG tanks are ex­pen­sive. We will there­fore con­tinue to watch this space closely. If we feel that the adop­tion point is close, we will serve the mar­ket,” Srini­vas said.

Elec­tric CVs

M&M has an­nounced the in­tro­duc­tion of an elec­tric bus as a part of the elec­tric ve­hi­cle port­fo­lio. The com­pany is work­ing on that project fo­cus­ing on the T32, T40 and T42 range. “From a tech­nol­ogy stand point we are well pre­pared. We have the group com­pany, Mahin­dra Elec­tric, which has done such projects. We are work­ing with them on the bus project as well. While the project pro­ceeds,

there are some en­ablers, which need to hap­pen. One is the cost of the elec­tric power pack. There is in­ter­est for lo­cal man­u­fac­ture, which should re­duce the costs. The other is the range. A con­ven­tional, or even a bat­tery pow­ered bus would call for a range of 200 to 250 km. An elec­tric bus should also need range like that for a city op­er­a­tion,” he said.

The range for elec­tric ve­hi­cles is still talked to be be­tween 100 and 120 km. Chal­lenges in the area of bat­tery cost and time to fully charge re­main. An in­ter­est­ing de­vel­op­ment in this area is that min­istries have come to­gether, and un­der the purview of union min­is­ter Piyush Goyal, are look­ing at bat­tery swap­ping for buses. The bus has to travel 50 km be­fore the bat­tery is swapped. The bat­tery thus has to be brand ag­nos­tic. The bat­ter­ies could be charged off­line, and away from the bus. The time re­quired is as­sured. The float can be de­cided on the num­ber of bat­ter­ies, and depend­ing on the num­ber of buses as well as the kind of routes to be run on. If the 150 km re­quire­ment comes down to 50 km with bat­tery swap­ping, the cost of bat­ter­ies will come down to one-third of what it is to­day. Some level of in­cen­tives will be needed, but vi­a­bil­ity will go up many folds.

“De­spite the group ex­pe­ri­ence in elec­tric pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles, we are ap­proach­ing elec­tric (com­mer­cial) ve­hi­cle ar­chi­tec­ture ground up. We are look­ing at what the mar­ket re­quire­ments are for a bus. What learn­ings of Mahin­dra Elec­tric can we take so that our learn­ing curve is faster. We are look­ing at bet­ter en­ergy man­age­ment, bet­ter drives, and bet­ter stor­age. We are keen to look at these and the other as­pects for an elec­tric bus rather than tak­ing a sys­tem and up­scal­ing it,” Srini­vas said. About the kind of in­tel­li­gence that Mahin­dra and Mahin­dra want to build, he said that, “We have learnt what we need for the mar­ket. Con­sider the IPR bit, and it is quite com­plex. Mahin­dra Elec­tric brings in a good deal of it. The ‘fu­els­mart’ tech­nol­ogy on trucks helped us to un­der­stand how cus­tomers use their CVs in var­i­ous road loads and ap­pli­ca­tions. We have ac­quired a large data­base re­gard­ing that. This helped us to ex­tend ‘fu­els­mart’ tech­nol­ogy on the diesel load LCVs that we in­tro­duced on the Jayo and Op­timo plat­form. A lot of us­age as­sess­ment and pro­fil­ing that we did has given us a de­tailed un­der­stand­ing of how our prod­ucts are used. Com­bine that with Mahin­dra Elec­tric’s abil­ity to op­ti­mise en­ergy man­age­ment for elec­tric ve­hi­cles, and we are look­ing at a big ad­van­tage,” he said.

The re­sult­ing ve­hi­cle is cer­tain to be state-of-the-art in terms of en­ergy con­sump­tion. Ex­ter­nally threr are many peo­ple who can in­te­grate an elec­tric power pack. To ar­rive at an op­ti­mal com­bi­na­tion is a dif­fer­ent ball-game al­to­gether. The con­trol sys­tems and the de­vel­op­ment of IPR for ef­fi­cient man­age­ment of en­ergy are of prime im­por­tance. Mahin­dra Elec­tric has done a lot of work in this area, and is bring­ing to the ta­ble a lot of learn­ings. We are bring­ing a mar­ket per­spec­tive to the project. It could trans­late into engi­neer­ing duty cy­cle.

Con­nected CVs

We have come to look at au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles in the form of clas­si­cal western def­i­ni­tions. It leads to how we are go­ing to look at tech­nolo­gies like adap­tive cruise con­trol. This tech­nol­ogy is al­ready found on some cars in In­dia. So, it can hap­pen. Tech­nolo­gies like blind spot mon­i­tor­ing, lane de­par­ture warn­ing, and AEBS need to be looked at. For ex­am­ple, how will blind spot mon­i­tor­ing work in Pune’s traf­fic? There will al­ways be some­one in the blind spot. Rather than tak­ing a lit­eral trans­la­tion of western def­i­ni­tions and the fea­ture con­tent that is be­ing de­fined in this do­main, the need is to up­scale our un­der­stand­ing, which is small when com­pared to the western

mar­kets. Our cu­rios­ity in this area is very high. We are very keen to un­der­stand what and how tech­nolo­gies can be rel­e­vant. We can build in­tel­li­gence on the top of the ‘fu­els­mart’ tech­nol­ogy that we have de­vel­oped. There is no need to look at driver­less ve­hi­cle as the holy grail. They may hap­pen 10 or 20 years down the line. There is a need to pick up rel­e­vant tech­nol­ogy and add in­tel­li­gence to it. For ex­am­ple, drowsi­ness alert sys­tems. These, I feel, will be quite rel­e­vant in the In­dian mar­ket. Drunken driv­ing en­force­ment is not high, and makes a tech­nol­ogy like drowsi­ness alert ex­tremely rel­e­vant. There is also a need to find out what is rel­e­vant for which ap­pli­ca­tion. Off-road seg­ments are per­haps a bit more con­ducive to au­to­ma­tion. On­road there is still an amount of het­ero­gene­ity in terms of traf­fic. In a con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment like a mine, an au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cle can do more. We at Mahin­dra Trucks and Buses will con­tinue to make our CVs smarter. We will not wait for the reg­u­la­tions to call for it. We will look at other trig­gers to find out what we can add. A lot of elec­tron­ics in the form of an ABS sys­tem, the en­gine ECU, the dig­i­tal in­stru­ment clus­ter, etc., are al­ready there. The need is to lever­age them, and to cre­ate some­thing bet­ter. Ev­ery year we will make our trucks and buses smarter. It will take us to­wards au­ton­o­mous CVs,” Srini­vas said.

In the new CVs driver will be­come an im­por­tant part of the ecosys­tem. We are putting a lot of thought into how we can make the ecosys­tem bet­ter for the driver. It is the driver who spends the most of his time with the CV.

“We are pay­ing at­ten­tion to how we can get more pro­duc­tiv­ity from the driver by mak­ing it more com­fort­able for him. The in­stru­ment clus­ter has be­come a lot more ver­sa­tile in BSIV guise, and would pro­vide a lot of in­for­ma­tion. It is about us­ing con­nected tech­nolo­gies like Wi-Fi, Blue­tooth and our DigiSense plat­form. DigiSense is a stan­dard fit­ment in the Blazo BS IV. We will con­tinue to of­fer it in our other plat­forms as well. A lot of in­for­ma­tion ob­tained as data is made avail­able to the driver. It is also made avail­able to the fleet owner. This en­sures bet­ter trans­parency and man­age­ment of the data. It could be used for ser­vice in­di­ca­tors, di­ag­nos­tics, and for trou­ble shoot­ing. This, as con­nected ve­hi­cle tech­nol­ogy, will em­power the driver and the fleet owner in ways that we have not seen or imag­ined. We are try­ing to un­lock the po­ten­tial, a re­sult of which pro­duc­tiv­ity will im­prove. We want our cus­tomers to make more money. There are com­pa­nies like Tesla that are ap­proach­ing a prob­lem from a very dif­fer­ent an­gle. We need to learn about them. Some of them are sit­ting with lot of cash that they can spend on var­i­ous ex­per­i­men­tal ven­tures. The in­dus­try as a whole, I think, is learn­ing from it. The speed of in­no­va­tion of such com­pa­nies is some­thing that we can adopt. We may not spend a tril­lion Dol­lars or ex­per­i­ment as much, we will how­ever an ex­per­i­ment in smaller ways and learn from the ex­per­i­ments of oth­ers. We have to be a fast mover and iden­tify the ap­pli­ca­tion of spe­cific re­quire­ments. For an ex­am­ple, Li­dar tech­nol­ogy will de­liver cer­tain ap­pli­ca­tion. It muct be done quickly. The ba­sic tech­nol­ogy and res­o­lu­tion can be de­vel­oped by some­one else. We will have to move fast in de­ploy­ing it,” Srini­vas said.

The 7.2-litre com­mon-rail turbo diesel en­gine has come to pro­vide the right power to weight ad­van­tage post BSIV im­ple­men­ta­tion

Elec­tron­ics in pow­er­train is ris­ing as reg­u­la­tory pres­sures and buyer de­mands mount

Mahin­dra Truck and Buses is work­ing closely with group com­pa­nies like Mahin­dra Elec­tric and Mahin­dra Re­search val­ley to tran­si­tion into the fu­ture

With a use of smart pow­er­train tech­nolo­gies, Mahin­dra Trucks and Buses is keen to de­velop smart CVs

Dr. Venkat Srini­vas, Vice Pres­i­dent & Head, Engi­neer­ing & Prod­uct De­vel­op­ment, Mahin­dra Trucks and Buses, feels that syn­er­gies are use­ful to de­velop new tech­nolo­gies

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