Rockman gaining from alloy wheel biz: Munjal

Rockman Industries Ltd chairman Suman Kant Munjal.
Rockman Industries Ltd chairman Suman Kant Munjal.

Summary

Alloy wheels are helping Rockman enter the market for electric two-wheelers.

New Delhi: Rockman Industries Ltd is navigating a shift to making alloy wheels for electric and combustion engine vehicles, chairman Suman Kant Munjal said, as the Hero Group company diversifies from its beginnings as an aluminium die-casting parts maker for two-wheeler makers.

Alloy wheels that now fetch half its revenues are helping Rockman enter the rapidly-growing market for electric two-wheelers, Munjal said in an interview.

“Fifty per cent of Rockman’s business is wheels now, and wheels are ICE (internal combustion engine) or EV-agnostic. We have a large two-wheeler wheels business, although nearly two years ago, we started in the four-wheelers category as well. We have most of the EV players in two-wheelers on board in the wheels business, including Ather, Hero’s Vida and so many more—all of them, except Hero Electric and Okinawa which started well before we started offering wheels. Apart from that, we serve the vast majority of the market," said Munjal, also a member of the Hero MotoCorp board.

Rockman Industries is on track to double its four-wheeler wheel manufacturing capacity to 2 million units annually by the end of this financial year.

“We ventured into four-wheeler wheels two years ago. Just close to the outbreak of covid-19, we put up a certain capacity which is already fully sold. We are into expansion mode, and we expect this expansion should get completed by the end of this calendar year. Next financial year, we’ll have doubled the capacity for four-wheeler wheels manufacturing at our Andhra Pradesh facility. It was a million wheels a year earlier. Now, we’ll be doing 2 million wheels a year, and the second million will kick in from February or March onwards next year. We expect that capacity too will get sold in a few months; then, there’ll be pressure for more. It’s a continuous cycle for us. That’s what has happened with us in two-wheeler wheels. We have two-wheeler wheels in five locations already in the country. The sixth location is going to take off soon. We started with manufacturing wheels in Haridwar, then we expanded to Bawal, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and now Chennai in Tamil Nadu," Munjal said, adding, “We are serving only the domestic market for now. The local OEMs are keeping us busy. Although we do have some business from the after-market from abroad, but that’s a second priority for now."

As the western world moves to meet strict net-zero emissions targets, many traditional industries like foundries are moving to India, providing opportunities to homegrown players like Rockman, who are navigating their own challenges with electrification at home.

“The other half of our business is in engine casting, etc., which are at risk when we move to EVs. Here, we are now moving more towards export. Export was a very, very small percentage of our sales, but it is now expanding. It’ll give us some more breathing space for some more years that our capacities in the high pressure die casting will remain busy," Munjal said, adding, “This is because Western suppliers are not doing this anymore, so (OEMs) want suppliers from countries like India. They are looking for tough jobs like a foundry to be outsourced. That’s where China came in and now India is coming in a big way," Munjal said.

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