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If the government pushes to build charging stations, it will significantly influence the adoption of EVs

Mahesh TyagiManaging Director of Heller India
mahesh tyagi heller india

Between smart devices and the rise of electric vehicles, the global automotive landscape undergoes dynamic shifts driven by technological advancements and changing consumer preferences, the role of industry leaders becomes increasingly pivotal. In this engaging Q&A session, we delve into the insights and perspectives of Mahesh Tyagi, Managing Director of Heller India, a prominent name in the manufacturing sector with an undeniable legacy spanning over a century.

Heller has been a stalwart force in the machining sector and a driving influencer in the automotive industry’s evolution. The company has consistently championed quality and innovative technology. They demonstrated an unwavering forward-thinking approach throughout its extensive history. 

Mahesh Tyagi, at the helm of Heller India, embodies the spirit of innovation and adaptability the company stands for. With a proven track record of guiding Heller through industry fluctuations, Tyagi’s insights offer a unique lens through which we can explore the imminent industry trends, challenges, and opportunities that shape the future of the automotive domain.

In this Q&A session, we traverse a spectrum of critical themes, ranging from the burgeoning electric vehicle market and advanced manufacturing technologies to the profound impact of government policies on the industry’s landscape. Tyagi’s pragmatic views provide an insightful analysis of current scenarios and a visionary outlook on the automotive industry’s trajectory over the next five years.

As electric vehicles surge onto the scene, reshaping the global automotive paradigm, we gain Tyagi’s valuable perspectives on the adoption of EVs in the Indian market and the pivotal role infrastructure development plays in catalyzing this transition. Moreover, his thoughts on the role of advanced manufacturing technologies shed light on how innovation contributes to optimizing production processes and maintaining competitiveness in an increasingly demanding sector.

As the automotive industry in India undergoes significant transformations, what key trends do you foresee shaping its future over the next five years?

Electric vehicles, particularly in the two-wheeler segment, do not pose a significant threat at the present moment. The industry faces two challenges: one related to the high costs of electric vehicles, and one that will come later, the upcoming wave of used batteries. But only time will tell since we need to wait at least two years to be able to assess these costs. I foresee a potential cost increase of 10%, mainly driven by the two-wheeler segment, especially if the government removed subsidies.

With the rise of electric vehicles (EVs) globally, how do you perceive the adoption and growth of EVs in the Indian market? What challenges and opportunities do you anticipate in this transition?

The most significant obstacle to Electric Vehicles adoption in India is the infrastructure for charging vehicles on highways and roads. However, if the government pushes to build charging stations, it will significantly influence the adoption of EVs. The opportunities I see lie in controlling costs and improving charging infrastructure. The price difference between petrol, diesel, and electricity—about 75%—will impact buyers’ decisions to go electric.

electric vehicles

Could you share your insights on the role of advanced manufacturing technologies, such as additive manufacturing and automation, in shaping the future of automotive manufacturing?

Increasingly smaller batch sizes, shorter delivery times, and more complex components require continuous production process optimization. The aim is to reduce setup times, part handling times, measuring effort and throughput times, among other things, and thus achieve optimum unit costs. The current approach to advanced manufacturing focuses on increasing productivity and long-term reliability and availability. 

The Indian government has been promoting initiatives like “Make in India” and emphasizing localization in the automotive sector. How do you see these policies impacting the industry? And what steps are Heller India taking to align with such initiatives?

The “Make in India” initiative has been a great success for the Indian economy. We plan to procure essential machinery parts. This will help to refurbish old equipment and retool for the newest part types. We think it is necessary as the Indian market is highly price-sensitive. Even minor cost variations can make a big difference.

Regarding sustainability and environmental impact, which effort is Heller India making to support the automotive industry’s transition to greener practices? Are there any notable initiatives or partnerships in place?

Heller developed a machine for manufacturers to implement Cylinder Bore Coating (CBC) based on light-arc wire spraying (LDS) with two-wire technology. This process often replaces the everyday use of gray cast iron with a gray cast iron bushing with an approximate wall thickness. Provided with a cross-section and inserted into the cylinder, the liner ensures the running of the piston. However, the liners in no way come close to the properties of an LDS-based cylinder’s inner surface. Friction in the low-speed range can be up to 50 percent lower with LDS. It positively impacts wear and corrosion resistance. In addition, the gray cast iron bushings have an apparent weight disadvantage.

The Indian automotive market is highly competitive. How does Heller India differentiate itself from other players? And what is your strategy to maintain a competitive edge in the coming years?

Our strategy emphasizes quality and long-term cost-effectiveness, even if it means a higher initial investment. The long-term benefit will be the lowest possible running cost of manufacturing lines, deciding the results. If you have a low buy-in, to begin with, the price is higher than the results, pushing the overall scenario in red. What makes us stand out is our focus on quality. It is something we have held on throughout our 129-year history.

electric vehicles

Could you elaborate on the role of skill development and upskilling in the automotive industry? How is Heller India contributing to fostering a skilled workforce and addressing the industry’s talent requirements?

We believe in continuous training for our employees. Every year, we send our people abroad to places like Germany to learn the latest technologies and broaden their perspectives. We see this way: it is critical for our growth to ensure a continuous education of our talent, especially given the current limitations of technical education in India.

Localization and supply chain resilience gained unprecedented prominence. How do you ensure a robust local supply chain to support automotive manufacturing and mitigate potential disruptions?

We have learned from the 2008 economic recession and the recent pandemic that investing in supply chains is essential for automotive resilience. The automotive industry has re-started investing in the supply chain over the past two years to ensure it does not collapse as it did during the pandemic.

Concluding thoughts 

In this Q&A, Mahesh Tyagi provides a comprehensive roadmap of what the automotive industry can expect, outlining the need for innovation, commitment to sustainable practices, and the courage to demonstrate resilience in the rapidly transforming automotive industry. It is clear that Heller India steadily steers through this fluid landscape and keeps its dedication intact to adjust to an ever-changing business landscape by embracing cutting-edge technologies and relentlessly nurturing its workforce to meet the industry’s evolving demands. 

In the grand tapestry of India’s automotive industry, Heller’s story stands as a testament to adaptability, growth, and a future-oriented mindset.