From pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles to CVs: Shrad­dha Suri Mar­wah

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Subros Lim­ited is repli­cat­ing its pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle (PV) suc­cess in the com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle sec­tor which is tak­ing to ther­mal sys­tems in a big way, Shrad­dha Suri Mar­wah, Man­ag­ing

Di­rec­tor, Subros, told H S Billimoria, CEO, Next Gen Pub­lish­ing, and Ashish Bha­tia, Se­nior Cor­re­spon­dent, Next Gen Pub­lish­ing, in an exclusive interview. Edited ex­cerpts:

Q: Be­gin­ning with pas­sen­ger cars and find­ing a firm foot­ing in the com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle mar­ket, how do you look at Subros jour­ney?

Shrad­dha Suri Mar­wah (SSM): Subros Ltd. was es­tab­lished in 1985 as a joint ven­ture be­tween the Suri Group, Denso Cor­po­ra­tion (Ja­pan) and Suzuki Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion (Ja­pan). It was the re­sult of a brave de­ci­sion of the chair­man of Suri Group, Ramesh Suri. Over 95% of the pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles sold were with­out an air-con­di­tioner. It was the fore­sight of the pro­mot­ers of the com­pany that led to the es­tab­lish­ment of Subros. To­day, Subros has a ca­pac­ity to pro­duce 1.5 mil­lion units. It is com­mand­ing 40% share of the In­dian pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle mar­ket. We are keen to repli­cate the same suc­cess in the com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle space. In­ci­den­tally, we see the same trend in the com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle space that was seen in the pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle space in 1985. Over 95% of the com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles sold are with­out an air­con­di­tioner. It is be­cause of the govern­ment no­ti­fi­ca­tion (that driver cab­ins of CVs should have a blower start­ing Jan­uary 01, 2018) that a pull in the di­rec­tion of ther­mal sys­tems is emerg­ing. Since all the pro­cesses are the same when it comes to CVs from a ther­mal en­gi­neer­ing point of view we were able to smoothly ex­pand into the CV space.

Q: How are you driv­ing ahead Ramesh Suri’s vi­sion?

SSM: The be­lief of Ramesh Suri in the ther­mal prod­uct do­main is com­mend­able. It is his vi­sion that is driv­ing us. We are fol­low­ing him. His mantra, ‘Per­fec­tion is a never-end­ing jour­ney’, we con­tinue to fol­low at all the lev­els of busi­ness we con­duct. We con­tinue to in­vest in new tech­nolo­gies and de­velop new prod­ucts. We have re­tained the con­fi­dence of our cus­tomers and are part­ner­ing with them for their pro­gramme road-map. It is his vi­sion that has led us to ex­pand into new ar­eas.

Q: How do you look at the as­so­ci­a­tion with Denso Cor­po­ra­tion and Suzuki Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion?

SSM: Our as­so­ci­a­tion with Denso Cor­po­ra­tion and Suzuki Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion is about seam­less com­mu­ni­ca­tion. We share a strong bond of trust and sup­port. Denso, as a tech­nol­ogy part­ner, has been a pil­lar of strength. It has been help­ing us to ad­dress the needs of our clients like Maruti Suzuki. In 2012, we formed a joint ven­ture, Denso Subros En­gi­neer­ing Cen­ter, to fo­cus on ap­pli­ca­tion de­sign and new tech­nolo­gies.

Q: How much do CVs con­trib­ute in rev­enue terms?

SSM: Pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles are cur­rently con­tribut­ing 85-90% of the rev­enue. The re­main­ing is from CVs. We are fo­cus­ing on CVs in a big way as we feel that this busi­ness will grow at a faster pace. We have a clear plan to have 75% rev­enue from the PV busi­ness in the fu­ture, and the re­main­ing 25% from com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles. We see de­mand emerg­ing from the state trans­port or­gan­i­sa­tions as they ex­pand their AC bus fleet. The govern­ment no­ti­fi­ca­tion for fit­ting of blower is also cre­at­ing a pull. In­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ment, we are con­fi­dent, will in­crease the de­mand for air-con­di­tioned CVs. We see de­mand com­ing from govern­ment’s fo­cus on air­con­di­tion­ing lo­co­mo­tive driver cab­ins and lo­cal rail rakes too.

Q: What rate of growth in CVs are you look­ing at?

SSM: At present it is at a nascent stage, we see the CV ther­mal mar­ket grow­ing at a fast pace in the near fu­ture.

Q: Isn’t the cycli­cal na­ture of CV mar­ket in In­dia a chal­lenge?

SSM: The cyclic na­ture of CV mar­ket in In­dia is not dif­fer­ent from the global mar­kets. Mar­ket de­mand for bet­ter and faster trans­porta­tion is fa­cil­i­tat­ing the growth. Govern­ment sup­port and reg­u­la­tions have been a pos­i­tive growth driver as well. We don’t see a chal­lenge.

Q. How do you look at the bus mar­ket growth?

SSM: Pub­lic trans­port will play

a key role in de­con­gest­ing the cities. Im­prov­ing liv­ing stan­dards and grow­ing as­pi­ra­tions are driv­ing the de­mand for AC buses. The mar­ket in per­cent­age terms may not be sig­nif­i­cant to­day, in the near fu­ture we are con­fi­dent of it grow­ing to 30% of the to­tal mar­ket size. Rise in road in­fra­struc­ture will lead to AC bus de­mand. We see a strong op­por­tu­nity in that space.

Q: How big is the mar­ket for trac­tors, con­struc­tion and earth­mov­ing equip­ment?

SSM: Con­cerns of health and safety are cre­at­ing de­mand for air-con­di­tioned op­er­a­tor cab­ins in trac­tors, con­struc­tion and earth­mov­ing equip­ment. Com­pa­nies fo­cus­ing on em­ployee health are notic­ing that AC cab­ins are im­prov­ing driver ef­fi­ciency. De­mand of AC is thus grow­ing. It is grow­ing es­pe­cially in trac­tors and back­hoe load­ers. En­hanced pro­duc­tiv­ity due to AC cab­ins is lead­ing to bet­ter re­turn on in­vest­ment.

Q: How is busi­ness far­ing for trans­port re­frig­er­a­tion so­lu­tions?

SSM: Land routes ac­count for the largest mar­ket share in global trans­port re­frig­er­a­tion units mar­ket. Cli­mate con­trolled trans­porta­tion is in­flu­enced by trade pat­terns and trans­porta­tion costs. Driv­ing growth in this mar­ket is glob­al­i­sa­tion of food trade. Growth in Asia-Pa­cific is high. In In­dia it is led by the de­vel­op­ment in food re­tail­ing in­fra­struc­ture, chang­ing food con­sump­tion pat­terns (grow­ing pref­er­ence for frozen and chilled food), grow­ing pop­u­la­tion, rapid ur­ban­i­sa­tion, and strin­gent govern­ment reg­u­la­tions. Pro­vid­ing large scope for ex­pan­sion, im­prove­ment in crop re­al­i­sa­tion will lead to a rise in de­mand for cold chain lo­gis­tics. We are ready. We are in fact pro­vid­ing turnkey so­lu­tions for both cabin and AC fit­ment to OEMs, and to other mar­kets.

Q: Do you ex­pect the truck seg­ment to be a growth driver?

SSM: As of now, a ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem is manda­tory. AC is op­tional. We, as a pi­o­neer in the ther­mal field, have se­cured a 70% mar­ket share. Our prod­uct lines are ready, and we have be­gun sup­ply in the last quar­ter. This mar­ket is large and will be a key driver in the long run.

Q: How is GST in­flu­enc­ing the CV side of your busi­ness?

SSM: There was not much change in the billing pat­tern. Prices came down. The ben­e­fits we passed on to the cus­tomers af­ter GST has created a pos­i­tive im­pact.

Q: How are you help­ing your clients to meet the reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments?

SSM: We are com­mit­ted to en­vi­ron­ment pro­tec­tion. We of­fer eco- friendly prod­ucts. Our pri­or­ity is to pro­vide high ef­fi­ciency air-con­di­tion­ing sys­tems that emit less and help achieve higher fuel econ­omy. Our prod­ucts en­sure main­te­nance of dis­charge air tem­per­a­tures at idle and dur­ing stops in mild hy­brid ve­hi­cles es­pe­cially. We of­fer ECMs that meet CO2 and NOx emis­sions reg­u­la­tions.

Q. What are the fo­cus ar­eas in R&D?

SSM: The Subros Tech­ni­cal Cen­tre (STC) at Noida de­vel­ops new prod­ucts. It de­vel­ops new prod­ucts for model launches with as­sis­tance from Denso. Denso Subros Ther­mal En­gi­neer­ing Ser­vices takes care of the ap­pli­ca­tion and al­lied ser­vices. Our fo­cus is on en­hanc­ing tech­nolo­gies to meet the fu­ture re­quire­ments of cus­tomers. Our em­pha­sis is on lo­cal man­u­fac­ture with global spec­i­fi­ca­tions. The road map for fu­ture tech­nolo­gies the In­dian mar­ket will de­mand is in place. We are work­ing closely with our part­ners to en­hance our tech­no­log­i­cal prow­ess, and to fully sup­port cus­tomer ve­hi­cle pro­grammes. Our state-of-the-art test­ing fa­cil­i­ties are en­abling us to eval­u­ate all as­pects of ve­hi­cle ther­mal sys­tem man­age­ment. It is help­ing us to be a re­li­able part­ner for com­po­nent and sys­tem val­i­da­tion.

Q: Is the forg­ing di­vi­sion cap­tive to Subros or does it serve cus­tomers out­side?

SSM: The forg­ing di­vi­sion of Subros is equipped with pres­sure die cast­ing and squeeze die cast­ing tech­nol­ogy. These tech­nolo­gies are re­quired for com­pres­sor shells and cast­ings. Ma­jor­ity of the out­put of the forg­ing di­vi­sion is cap­tive. There are other prod­ucts, which the di­vi­sion man­u­fac­tures for OEMs.

SSM: To be a mar­ket leader is a tough task. We have al­ways be­lieved that com­pe­ti­tion is good for health. It has led us to chal­lenge our­selves; to im­prove on all fronts.


Q: How do you look at com­pe­ti­tion?

With an es­ti­mated mar­ket cap of Rs 26.64 bil­lion, what are the op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges that you fore­see?

SSM: We are an­tic­i­pat­ing con­tin­ued growth in the au­to­mo­tive sec­tor due to sta­ble global eco­nomic fac­tors, em­pha­sis on lo­cal man­u­fac­ture, and in­fra­struc­ture growth. We are cater­ing to the needs of the ex­ist­ing and new au­tomak­ers in In­dia. The com­mis­sion­ing of the Gu­jarat plant will help us in do­ing so. Due to in­crease in the share of busi­ness from the ex­ist­ing cus­tomers, and be­cause of ex­pand­ing into new busi­ness do­mains like bus and rail air-con­di­tion­ing, truck re­frig­er­a­tion, and ra­di­a­tors, we are an­tic­i­pat­ing strong growth. We see growth in the pro­mo­tion of eco-friendly au­to­mo­biles in In­dia. We have made ex­ten­sive lo­cal­i­sa­tion plans for key com­po­nents to pro­vide prod­ucts that em­ploy the lat­est tech­nol­ogy at low cost. This, we are con­fi­dent, will help us to sus­tain growth and prof­itabil­ity, and min­imise the im­pact of fluc­tu­a­tion in eco­nomic in­di­ca­tors.

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