Focus on the core
The human brain is an amazing piece of engineering. But when you talk of intelligence, it is people that come to mind—Einstein, Newton, Mozart, Shakespeare—and not the cerebrum, cerebellum, lobes or the hypothalamus. In automotive terms, the car is Einstein and the complex mechanisms that go into making it work are what the auto components business is all about; the fascinating bits and parts that make up the brain as a whole.
Like the brain, the auto components supplier has to be immensely agile, adaptive and be able to react to the stimuli and situations around, in real time. With new technologies and innovations all around, success lies in knowing and building on your core strength. If you asked us whether wiring harnesses are our core or mirrors or technology, we’d have to say no. These are our core offerings yes, but the core of Motherson is the single-minded focus on performance that continuously and consistently delivers customer satisfaction.
In the automotive space, the buzz is all about electric vehicles and autonomous cars. To component manufacturers like us that are engine agnostic, this is an added opportunity. Electric vehicles (EVs) will need increased light-weighting, more sophisticated and aesthetic plastics. So in the pure sense, the advent of EVs is an extension of what we are already doing.
We must remember that EVs are not as recent as we seem to think they are. The first EVs were being designed in the 1800s; even Ferdinand Porsche, the eponymous founder of the sports car company developed one, the PI, in 1898.
Fast forward to today, are we EV ready? As a components manufacturer, yes, we are. At the original equipment manufacturer level, yes, they are. The question, I think, is one to be asked to customers and governments—for consumers, it will be factors like price, availability, cost of ownership and ease of use. The transition from internal combustion engines to other futuristic technologies is probably inevitable but one that will take time to achieve.
Infrastructure will be of paramount importance. Achieving parity in terms of cost with fuel-based engines may be the actual turning point for the world to start going electric.
If you look at it from a numbers perspective, today there are approximately 1.2 billion vehicles on the road and of these, merely 1.2 million are electric. The numbers speak for themselves, and what they are saying is that while there has been a significant rise in the number of EVs year on year, there is a way to go before there is any semblance of balance, forget reversal between the traditional and the technological.
And finally, can we set timelines for the automotive world to go electric? Disruption used to be just another word in the dictionary. The last decade however, brought that disruption to our doorsteps. We cannot imagine a world without Uber or Ola to drive us around, Swiggy and Zomato to bring us our food, Facebook to keep us updated on our friends and driving without Google Maps.
With technology changing and being reinvented in almost real time, 10 or 15 years ahead is light years away. All we can do, as manufacturers or makers, is to stay a step ahead of the curve—ultimately, as it is with almost anything in business or in life, preparedness is key.
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