By Freddie Holmes
December 2, 2015
While corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) regulations in the US continue to apply pressure on OEMs to develop more fuel-efficient vehicles, the Indian market does not have to cope with such stringent regulations. However, this has not stopped Indian companies from pushing for lighter vehicles for other reasons.Speaking at Automotive Megatrends India 2015, a number of industry specialists advised that the development of lightweight vehicles would progress in India regardless of regulatory pressures. Vehicle lightweighting in India is expected to increase regardless of efficiency and emissions regulations.
Markus Pfefferer, General Manager, India at Ducker Worldwide, remarked that efforts have been made, but struggled to take hold: “In the past, the industry has attempted to carry out vehicle lightweighting voluntarily… A lot of initiatives never stuck because they didn’t find the right suppliers or mindset from the OEMs, so there is a lot to do.” Pfefferer pointed toward the enticing side-effects of vehicle lightweighting, which can present an attractive business proposition as opposed to pressure on operations.
Lighter vehicles are more efficient, a factor he expects could spur new vehicle sales in the market where consumers regards fuel economy as one of the most important factors in a new car. In addition, he suggested that fleet operators would reap the rewards by switching materials around. For example, lightweight forged aluminium wheels currently have 75% penetration in North American trucks, “but are non-existent in India,” he said. “But there are suppliers here that provide this service, and running costs can be reduced by as much as 28% when swapping to aluminium,” he said, “so there is a business case behind it.”