Journeying to a New Reality

Photo by Tomáš Malík from Pexels

We are explorers. Whether it is the feeling of discovering something beautiful beyond an unknown horizon, or whether it is the discovery of a deeper self within. Rumi, the 13th century poet and Sufi mystic said:

“Travel brings power and love back into your life”.

– Rumi

This is what cars and motorcycles mean to me – the ability to explore, to watch the coming and going of beautiful landscapes, to see the world through fresh eyes.

And yes, they have utilitarian value too, especially in urban and suburban life, in getting from point A to point B quickly and efficiently, whether it is shopping for groceries or an emergency of some kind. Of course, cars and motorcycles aren’t the only form of mobility and transportation. But they provide a degree of autonomy to the traveler and have revolutionized human society from the time Henry Ford’s innovation of mass-production took root early in the 20th century.

But a little over a hundred years later, the world of mobility and transportation is changing rapidly, especially in the face of climate change, the expanding recognition of the need for sustainability, and the reengineering of economic and industrial systems into circular ones. The World Economic Forum (WEF) identifies six key issues that are pertinent to the automotive industry at large:

  •  Automotive Standardization
  • Self-driving Cars
  • Market Divergence
  • Data, Security and Privacy
  • Emissions and Pollution
  • Business Model Shifts

Of these, Market Divergence (the reality that auto sales have a brighter future in emerging markets than in developed economies), Emissions and Pollution (climate change, air quality, plastics pollution, resource efficiency, waste generation), and Business Model Shifts (the growth of shared and integrated mobility models) are the most pertinent to countries like India in the near future.

According to the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), India became the 5th largest auto market and the 7th largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles in 2019. The Invest India initiative of the Government of India estimated (pre-Covid) that the $118 billion automotive industry in India is expected to reach $300 billion by 2026, and India is expected to emerge as the world’s third largest passenger vehicle market by 2021.  

In addition, government led initiatives such as the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020, the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles (FAME India) scheme, and the Phased Manufacturing Programme for Electric Mobility, DHI, 2019 have made clear that electric mobility has an incredibly important role in the future of mobility in the nation.

Along with realizing the vision of electric mobility, strategies, methods, behaviors, and technologies – that enable sustainability and circularity, address pollution and resource use, have job creation potential, and address the shift in consumer preferences towards wanting sustainable products – need greater adoption. Remanufacturing within the automotive industry has been at the leading edge of sustainability and circularity through ingenuity, material stewardship, and circular design. Though its adoption in India is understood to be low, it has immense potential. Only a handful of companies like Cummins and Volvo are known to have remanufacturing operations in the nation.

According to the Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association (APRA), some of the environmental benefits of automotive remanufacturing include:

  • Energy Conservation: Automotive and truck parts are kept out of the resmelting process longer because of remanufacturing. As a result, millions of barrels of oil or comparable forms of energy are saved.
  • Raw Material Conservation: Remanufacturing gives a product numerous lives instead of just one, thereby saving raw material, resulting in annual savings of millions of tons of natural resources such as iron, aluminium, copper, etc.
  • Landfill Space Conserved: Landfills are spared the dumping of millions of tons of iron, aluminum, copper, etc., because of the monetary value the industry places on cores. This “core charge” ensures parts are returned to be rebuilt.
  • Air Pollution Reduction: Keeping parts out of the resmelting process benefits the environment by reducing the air pollution that is generated by resmelting.

In addition, studies have shown that:

  • About 50% of an original starter is recovered in the remanufacturing process. This can result in annual savings in the U.S. of 8.2 million gallons of crude oil from steel manufacturing, 51,500 tons of iron ore, and 6,000 tons of copper and other metals.
  • Rebuilt engines require 50% of the energy and 67% of the labor that is required to produce new engines.

It is worthwhile to remember here that remanufacturing results in bringing products to an “as-good-as-new” and in some cases, “better-than-new” condition, from both a quality and functionality standpoint. And they certainly outshine new products when viewed through the lens of environmental impacts.

Just as we journey to discover new vistas, the journey of our evolution in creating products, industries, and societies that co-exist in harmony with our shared values of human dignity and environmental stewardship is one that requires bringing a fresh perspective to how we see the future, and our relationship with the totality. Remanufacturing in the Indian automotive industry can and should be part of this journey. Being different starts with seeing differently. As author Henry Miller said:

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things”.

– Henry Miller

To learn more, and to be part of this evolving discussion, join us this Thursday, October 22, 2020, to hear from industry leaders and engage in an interactive Q&A at our webinar “Remanufacturing in the Indian Auto Industry”

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