Eight months into the fiscal year 2012-13, what are Tenneco’s main achievements in terms of new products and clients in its India portfolio?
Since our arrival in India, we have constantly adapted to the changing needs of OEMs and have supported our broad base of customers to suit Indian conditions both in ride control (RC) and emission control (EC) as they expand in this dynamic market. We are strongly positioned in India’s three major vehicle-producing hubs, which will serve as the foundation for achieving Tenneco’s goal to become a leading emission control and ride control supplier to light and commercial vehicle manufacturers in India.
Over the recent past, several global majors have invested a lot in the country and as suppliers to these companies, we set up plants in the vicinity to service them efficiently. For instance, we cater to Maruti Suzuki for a couple of platforms from Bawal. Likewise, our plant in Chennai caters specifically to Renault Nissan, Ford and Daimler. And we service Volkswagen and Mahindra & Mahindra from Chakan. Some of our other clients include Tata Motors, Swaraj Mazda, General Motors, Lombardini and TVS Motor Company.
In the last three years, Tenneco Automotive India has launched state-of-the-art ride control products for around 15 new vehicle models and emission control products for around 10 new vehicle models for different OEM customers in India.
Some examples of new products in India include our multi-tunable valve technology in ride control as in the case of Toyota Etios, and the design, development and industrialisation of a full SCR system for a domestic OEM’s US export new pickup. The system fulfils all the US environmental requirements and this project has enabled us to establish ourselves with the OEM as a serious technology player in diesel aftertreatment.
India’s passenger car market is witnessing a downturn at the moment. How is this affecting Tenneco India's business, especially from the main players?
Tenneco is a supplier to virtually all OEMs in India and while we understand that the market is currently witnessing a downturn, we really cannot attribute the downturn to the entire passenger car market.
While some OEMs and some segments have shown a downturn, there are some OEMs and platforms that are still doing very well in spite of the apparent downturn.
Tenneco has a right balance of business and a vast variety of platforms that we operate in and hence we have been able to insulate ourselves to a large extent.
What is Tenneco’s involvement with the commercial vehicle sector and given the entry of new players (Daimler and Scania) and the activities of existing players, what is the gameplan for this sector?
First of all, the appearance of global OEMs in the Indian market is good news for a global company like Tenneco, which has been in India for more than a decade and has a good track record in leveraging our global know-how to local needs and requirements using local talent.
We are steadily increasing our India-based engineering and manufacturing capabilities to continue to offer our passenger car and commercial vehicle customers’ local, dedicated, and knowledgeable expertise backed by the full weight of a global company.
Our strategy in India is the same as everywhere else in the world – give our customers the comfort of operating with a proven partner and provide the same level of service they enjoy in other markets/regions in all aspects of design, engineering, industrialisation, quality and delivery.
Having established a leadership position in the passenger car business in India, we are confident that we can apply the same proven processes to help us succeed as a commercial vehicle supplier here.
Can you comment on Tenneco India’s product designing expertise and how has this been leveraged for the company here and overseas?
Currently, our engineering is focused on application engineering. In this regard, our Indian engineers concentrate on tailoring our technologies to the specific needs of a particular vehicle. Tenneco global engineering operates as one ‘virtual technology centre’ using expertise anywhere in the world to support specific needs in any other part of the company’s global activities. We plan to extend the existing competence levels in India [for both ride and emissions control] to offer complete offshore testing and validation for global projects.
How is Tenneco India gearing up for India’s upcoming emission norms that become effective in 2015?
Tenneco is committed to delivering advanced emission control as vehicle manufacturers around the globe face increasingly stringent emissions standards. Our technology roadmap for emission control ensures we have the right technologies at the right time to meet the needs of our customers, everywhere in the world.
At Tenneco, we have advanced technological capabilities to help our customers meet these regulations. With our long-standing leadership in emissions control and integrated R&D centres around the world, we are in a position to leverage this technology and know-how in new markets like India. The way we are trying to gear up for the future of emissions is to offer complete turnkey solutions when it comes to exhaust – that is the intelligence for it to operate independently, as well as the hardware required for it.
While referring specifically to the upcoming emission norms in India, the emission solutions required will have to integrate electronics within the exhaust systems. That is where Tenneco is positioned to face up to any of the emission norms with our advanced emission control systems.
We are one of the few companies that can give complete turnkey solutions for advanced emission systems. The company integrates emissions components and supplies full exhaust systems that meet or exceed increasingly stringent emissions and noise regulations. We have the ability to deliver these technologies to the Indian market now and already have contracts with some of the leading OEMs.
How is Tenneco handling the mature automotive markets which are undergoing a flux of sorts?
Tenneco’s global presence helps offset temporary weaknesses in some markets. Our position on strong-selling vehicles in North America, including a number of large, global programmes, our strong position with leading automakers in China and our growing presence in the commercial vehicle market support continued growth despite economic challenges and protracted weakness in certain markets.
Tenneco’s market-leading diesel aftertreatment technologies and engineering support continue to drive commercial vehicle growth. We recently announced two new commercial vehicle customers – Kubota (leading global manufacturer of commercial vehicle engines and equipment) in Japan and Scania in Europe. We’re preparing to launch this aftertreatment business later this year and to supply Kubota, we opened a new manufacturing plant near Osaka, Japan.
In Europe, we’ll be supplying a system for heavy-duty trucks and buses that will comply with Euro 6 emissions regulations. We’re also currently supplying Scania with SCR aftertreatment to meet Euro 5 emissions regulations in Brazil. Given our impressive list of leading customers, Tenneco is well-positioned to capitalise on an upturn in volumes when industry production cycles recover.
In short, our advanced technology is driving new light and CV business wins; our global capabilities for engineering, program management and manufacturing are supporting launches with the world’s leading OEMs and in the fastest-growing markets and Tenneco’s focus on improving efficiency, managing costs, reducing waste, and driving higher quality, are working together to improve our overall position.
With three new facilities set up in India at Delhi, Chennai and Pune, how has the company staffed these operations and how is the company handling the all-pervasive HR issues?
At Tenneco we believe that our employees are our greatest assets and hence we take that extra step to relate with them regularly and efficiently to gauge and address their needs. The idea is to give them a professional, rewarding and conducive working environment so that they take pride in being part of the company.
As retention of good talent is one of our top most priorities, we ensure that we have a constant top-down communication mechanism to make certain that we are well aligned in a manner by which the objectives of the company are fulfilled while giving our employees a satisfying atmosphere at work.
As part of our endeavour to constantly bring out world-class products, we make it a point to impart the latest technical knowhow and continuously upgrade the skills of our employees through focussed technical and behavioural training programmes in India and abroad. We also run strong HR processes and people oriented programmes like team-building exercises to motivate and enhance unity and loyalty among staff.
We have laid impetus on our retention and talent management strategy where we offer our employees growth opportunities on par with the best in the world. Outstanding employees are recognised and rewarded by cash awards or are given the opportunity to receive training abroad.
That apart, we have several employee schemes like education loans, retention bonus, company car programme, retention plan for critical business and impactful employees. We discuss openly with our employees the goals and objectives of not only the company but their own goals and objectives as well.