Plastic CNG tanks and car doors: A shift in India’s automotive paradigm? – ET Auto

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The company’s current turnover in India stands at approximately 200 million euros, contributing to the group’s overall 11-billion-euro revenue.

New Delhi: In an exclusive interview with ETAuto during the ACMA 9th Technology Summit 2024, on Tuesday, Laurent Favre, the CEO of the French automobile component manufacturer, Plastic Omnium, outlined the company’s roadmap for the Indian market, emphasizing sustainability, circular economy practices, and the evolution of engineering plastics in the automotive industry.

Favre acknowledged the company’s historical association with plastics but emphasized that Plastic Omnium has diversified into various automotive components, including lighting, electronics, and more. He underscored the importance of plastic in making vehicles lighter, cheaper, and more energy-efficient. Plastic Omnium, though not exclusively a plastic company, continues to leverage recyclable materials for environmental benefits.

Expanding footprint in India:
With a presence in India for 17 years, Plastic Omnium currently operates four production facilities, and is about to inaugurate a fifth one in Pune on Wednesday. Favre highlighted India’s strategic importance, not just as a production hub but also as a growing technical center for R&D. The company anticipates doubling its workforce in India from 1500 to meet the burgeoning demand.

The company’s current turnover in India stands at approximately 200 million euros, contributing to the group’s overall 11-billion-euro revenue. Favre revealed ambitious plans to double the turnover in the next five years, with a significant focus on the fuel tank business, where the market is transitioning from steel to plastic.

Plastic Omnium is the manufacturer of the plastic tailgate for the popular Mahindra XUV700, showcasing the company’s commitment to providing innovative solutions for leading automotive brands.

Future prospects and collaborations:
Favre hinted at potential collaborations in India, especially in the realm of CNG tanks and electrification. Plastic Omnium sees growth opportunities in the shift towards plastic-CNG tank solutions, providing lighter alternatives to steel. Discussions with OEMs on CNG development are underway, aligning with the evolving market demands, Favre said.

The company is actively involved in exploring new use cases beyond fuel tanks and tailgates. Favre discussed the possibility of integrating more plastic components into doors and other areas for weight reduction and improved safety. The company’s research includes transparent plastic for lighting integration and exploring applications in electric vehicles.

Capex and market expansion:
While not disclosing specific numbers, Favre confirmed the ongoing capex for a new factory in India. The company aims to cater primarily to the local market, anticipating the Indian automotive sector’s growth to eight million cars in the next five years.

When asked about the outlook for 2030, Favre said that, “India would continue to be dominated by combustion engines in 2030, with a gradual shift towards electrification for a cleaner environment. Plastic Omnium envisions a pivotal role in contributing to the low-carbon emission solutions, particularly in the commercial vehicle (CV) segment, with a focus on hydrogen-based solutions.”

Plastic Omnium remains optimistic about India’s potential, with plans to evolve and innovate, contributing to the country’s automotive growth while embracing sustainability.

  • Published On Mar 6, 2024 at 08:39 AM IST

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