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Vision Zero on the Subcontinent

Min Reading Time
Tags: ZeroAccidents, ZeroEmissions
India has a high demand for mobility, especially environmentally friendly mobility. ZF has the appropriate solutions, which the company is adapting to the special requirements at its locations in the country.
Lars Weitbrecht, June 27, 2018
Lars Weitbrecht originally comes from the music and gaming industry, but in addition to holding a game pad or guitar in his hand, he also enjoys the power of the pen and the feel of the steering wheel.
New Delhi at rush hour. Mopeds, rickshaws and small cars swarm between buses, vans and trucks. Lanes are created where gaps open up. Clouds of gas and diesel fumes are suspended in the air. There’s no doubt about it: the country is booming. In 2017, India was the fourth fastest growing economy in the world. The automotive industry, which is experiencing extremely rapid change, is playing a large part in this.

In 2017, India was the fourth fastest growing economy in the world. The automotive industry, which is experiencing extremely rapid change, is playing a large part in this. It already contributes around seven percent to the gross domestic product, and this figure is trending upwards. This number is similar to Germany’s statistics. This is no surprise, since more and more people are working and more and more goods have to be transported. As a result, more and more vehicles are on the road in India. The country is currently the world’s fourth largest market for car sales.
India’s government wants to both promote this development and ensure that it is sustainable. In doing so, it is confronted with two main problems: as people are increasingly drawn to the cities thanks to the industrial boom, air pollution there is extremely high. In addition, the number of victims of road accidents is extremely high.
As a technology company, ZF is optimally positioned to help India overcome these challenges. The Group has a portfolio of innovative and economical products and also “Vision Zero.” “As a company, we are committed to the vision of a world without accidents and emissions,” says KV Suresh, President of ZF India, adding: “We adapt successful global products for regional use and are adjusting our strategy to the requirements of the different markets.”
High environmental impact, many accidents: India's mobility sector faces major challenges.

Zero Accidents: A Rabbit Promotes Safety

Zero Accidents: A Rabbit Promotes Safety

Let's change the scene: we're in a classroom in Pune, West India, where a road safety lesson is being given. Children between the ages of 5 and 10 sit in the usual wooden school desks. “What do we do when we get in a car?” asks the teacher. “Buckle up!” yells out one of the students. As a reward for giving the right answer, he receives a small pin with a blue bunny on it, the “Safety Bunny.”
The Safety Bunny is part of an initiative from ZF which is intended to raise children’s awareness of the dangers that road traffic presents. Among other things, the courses teach the basics of road safety with quizzes and learning games. The Safety Bunny is an ambassador, mascot and leading figure in an accompanying social media campaign. The project will be rolled out in several English-speaking schools in Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad and Coimbatore. The Group aims to reach almost 10,000 schoolchildren with this concept.
traffic deaths
happen in India per year.

Frightening accident statistics

Frightening accident statistics

A look at road safety statistics shows how important initiatives like this are. More people die in road traffic in India than anywhere else in the world. The Indian road authorities report 150,000 traffic deaths per year. In terms of population, that is three to four times as many as in Germany or France. Riders of two-wheel vehicles (25 percent) and children and adolescents (10.5 percent) are affected at an above-average rate.
Some of these victims are also due to Indian infrastructure. In rural areas in particular, it takes a long time for help to reach the scene of the accident. The main causes of accidents are similar to those in other regions of the world: excessive speed, drunk driving and using cell phones while driving. In addition, there are outdated vehicles that offer little protection in terms of safety for the occupants, and people generally neglect to wear or fit helmets, seatbelts and childrens' safety seats. Additionally, inadequacies in law enforcement also result in accidents.
The Indian government wants to halve the current number of accidents and road fatalities by 2020. To this end, it is launching investment programs – to improve infrastructure, for example – and is passing legislation. Starting in 2019, airbags, antilock braking systems and speed limiters will be mandatory in new vehicles. The Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment Program (BNVSAP), the Indian counterpart to the NCAP crash test, is also currently in the organizational stage.
ZF also supports such developments by partnering with awareness campaigns such as “Stop the Crash.” The Group’s product portfolio also helps to prevent accidents or mitigate their consequences. ZF manufactures belt and airbag systems at a plant in Chennai, South India. New products launched on the market, such as the EPB electric park brake, bring additional safety benefits as they can also be integrated into the collision avoidance systems.

ZF in India

ZF has been active as a company in India for over 60 years and is represented at a total of 15 locations. Including its joint ventures, the Group employs 12,000 people nationwide. In India last year, ZF generated sales equivalent to 525 million euros. Commercial vehicle transmissions, chassis technology and safety technology accounted for the largest share of this, with products such as airbags, seatbelts and brakes. ZF's customers include Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Ashok, Volvo Eicher and Daimler. In March 2017, the Group’s research department opened the ZF India Technology Center in Hyderabad to make optimum use of the country’s existing IT knowledge. In this location, 1,000 engineers (set to increase to 2,500 engineers by 2020) are currently focusing on the development of autonomous vehicles and other advanced technologies for the world market.

Zero Emissions: A Push for Renewable Energy

Zero Emissions: A Push for Renewable Energy

In Tamil Nadu, the huge rotor blades of wind turbines cut through the sky. The federal state on the southern tip of India is the top producer of renewable energy. Powerful ZF transmissions from the Coimbatore plant are used in many of the wind turbines. “The market offers many opportunities for the Group because the government sets mandatory guidelines for operators and promotes competition,” says Deepak Pohekar, the Location Manager at the Coimbatore plant. The wind farms in Tamil Nadu can supply over 8,000 megawatts annually. India’s total capacity is 34,000 megawatts. This means that the country has the fourth greatest wind energy capacity in the world.
We are committed to the vision of a world without accidents and emissions.
KV Suresh, President ZF India

However, this is not yet apparent in terms of emissions. Although per capita CO2 emissions are below the global average at 1.7 tons , coal still accounts for 60 percent of India’s energy industry. New Delhi is particularly affected by air pollution. Here, where nine million motor vehicles are on the road, measuring points registered an average of 143 micrograms of ultrafine particles per cubic meter of air in 2016. For comparison, red alarms are triggered at 15 micrograms in the German city of Stuttgart. Greenpeace estimates that 1.2 million Indians die each year as a result of air pollution.
The Indian government is taking action to counter this: with emission targets, driving bans, improved infrastructure for electromobility and buyers' premiums for electric cars.
From what has been said, it is clear that traffic is not the sole cause of pollution of the air and atmosphere, but the government can intervene here in a relatively simple way using regulations:
  • A strict intervention that is only effective in the short term is imposing partial driving bans, which are declared in times of acute emergency in New Delhi. On a daily, alternating basis, only cars with even or odd numbers on their license plates may be driven.
  • Since 2017, the emission standard Bharat Stage IV (BS-IV), which is roughly equivalent to the Euro 4 emission standard, has been in force nationwide, and by 2020 BS-VI (corresponds to Euro 6) is set to be introduced directly throughout India.
  • A proposal to withdraw commercial vehicles which are over 20 years old from traffic circulation is being discussed in parliament.
With its fuel-efficient automatic transmissions, ZF is demonstrating that progress can also be achieved with conventional technology. The Group is developing just such an economical, cost-effective shifting system for commercial vehicles for the Indian market – this is a first in this region. ZF ensures that products are sustainable through high efficiency and, furthermore, the Group also strives to reduce its ecological footprint by looking beyond its products. For example, the Pune plant generates 290 megawatt hours of electricity per year using solar power systems, and power hogs in production are being identified in a pilot project in Coimbatore.

As is the case everywhere in the world, electromobility can make a significant contribution to limiting pollutant emissions in India. That is why the Indian government is supporting the shift towards e-mobility with changes in legislation and subsidies for better availability of charging stations. Several local governments are switching to electric municipal vehicles.. Rideshare providers such as Uber and its competitor Ola from Bangalore want to put several thousand emission-free compact vehicles and rickshaws onto the roads in the short term. ZF is also talking to several manufacturers about its range of electric drive solutions. In the field of electromobility, the ZF Group has a very broad portfolio for all kinds of applications. The company offers electric drives for all vehicle classes and also different versions of electric drives. They range from hybridized automatic transmissions to pure battery-powered electric drives.
With its products, the Group can help the Indian government achieve its ambitious goals. After all, the share of electric vehicles on the road in India is expected to reach 30 percent by 2030. This equates to around six to seven million vehicles. The current share is one percent.
ZF is represented at a total of 15 locations in India.

In a nutshell The Indian mobility market is growing exponentially and offers enormous potential to companies like ZF. Both the government and manufacturers want to shape this development to ensure that it is sustainable, using laws, promotional programs and new products. Air pollution and road safety pose major challenges to Indian society.