Designation: Managing director of Saertex
Education: PhD from Washington International University, USA. Alumnus of IIM-A, and also Wharton-SMU, USA, ISB-Kellogg-GAMP
Career: MD & CEO of Saertex India for the last seven years. Before this he was working with Sew Eurodrive India, where his last position was as MD
Interests: Playing golf and drinking wine
Q. We understand that the composite bus project has been delayed. Do you think the benefits of the technology still hold true?
Yes, while our project with Ashok Leyland has been delayed, the eco system which we are talking about, which is to redefine public transportation, is in our favour. In fact, it is the best right now in every respect, from fuel efficiency, to weight reduction, to carbon dioxide emissions to wear and tear of the engine, safety and the life cycle of the vehicle. And in the last two years, we have taken on quite a few projects in this space. So we are developing a fully composite commercial vehicle under 1 tonne for a large Indian manufacturer right now. There’s another project that we are just about to close for 300 completely electric composite buses for a large Asia Pacific company.
Q. So how does the roll out for the all composite buses for India look now?
The plug or mould is on its way from the United States right now. I think it should be at our Alwar plant either by July end or the first week of August. Then it will take us about two to three months to put it together which will include doing the interior installations. And I think by October this year we should be ready for the road show with the buses (in New Delhi and Chennai).
Q. The road show is critical for you to set customer expectations, isn’t it?
You know till now we have been meeting state transport undertakings and large manufacturers and the reaction is, ‘oh, this is a very good technology’. It is only when the bus is here that people will fully understand what we are talking about and the benefits this technology has to offer.
Q. Why are you behind schedule on the project?
While it is just nine months, in our minds we think it is a considerable delay. There are quite a few reasons for it. For instance, we pulled out of our joint venture relationship with Kemrock (six months back) because they could not meet our technical specifications. So the earlier idea was that the composite mould would be made in India, now we are getting it from the US, which has led to the delay.
For both the partners, it has been a great learning experience. Because as you delve into the finer details of the project, you realise that you have missed certain things. So, for instance, both teams thought that the modification in composites should work like metal. But any modification on the mould in composites is a big job and takes some time. And that’s not the case with metal. So in a way it was a good learning experience for both the teams.