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Trucks Sans Functional Rear Lights Are Like Human Bombs On Roads: Hella India Lighting

Hella created a vision to curb road accidents by 10 per cent by 2020. This vision was released by the company's board members in Germany in 2011

Hella India Lighting Ltd (HIL), one of the leading global manufacturers of automotive lighting & safety electrical products, is aiming to contribute 10 per cent reduction in road accidents in the country by 2020. While interacting with BW Businessworld, the company’s Managing Director Ramashankar Pandey was quite upfront in stating that trucks without rear lights in a working condition are equivalent to having ‘Human Bombs’ on roads. Edited excerpts:

What has been the turning point for Hella in India?

HIL realised that all the signalling devices like tail lights and stop lights that we develop for India will be based on LED technology. That will not only lead to extra braking distance, but will also make the products durable. So we disrupted the market by rolling out a locally-made LED tail lights, a first in the country in 2012. Developed specifically for the Indian market, the product was priced very attractively and was accepted by many fleet operators. It was a maintenance-free product and fit for life.

At present, at least the top 3 commercial vehicle (CV) manufacturers are using this product at their facilities. Hopefully it will see a widespread adoption in the country by 2020. Later on, we complemented signalling visibility with front lighting by introducing the first locally manufactured projector lamps in India.

Do we foresee a wider adoption of LED lights in medium & heavy commercial vehicles (M&HCVs) on the lines of light commercial vehicles (LCVs)?

MCVs have slowly started embracing this technology. But LCVs have yet not started accepting them.

Are you also making those diodes for LED lights in India?

N, we are not the producers of these diodes. We build the whole lighting systems and our suppliers are importing it as it is commercially not feasible yet for local production. But going forward, we do see a possibility of doing some value integration of assembling various components and preparing it locally by some of our suppliers.

Will you now be diversifying into the passenger vehicle segment?

At HIL, we have a very strategic focus. Our responsibility lies with non-car segment i.e. Bus, Trucks, Tractors, two-wheelers, off road vehicles etc. We do see two-wheelers as the next growth destination for us.

Which are the key markets where you are exporting your product lines?

Apart from our ‘Local for Local’ approach, we also have a ‘Local for Global; approach. Our 4-inch LED taillights for CV applications which is an outcome of our learning curve to make various LED Lamps for CV’s in India, is now getting accepted worldwide. We are exporting to the US, Europe, Singapore, South Africa, UAE, Australia, New Zealand, and now to Russia. Currently accounting for 20 per cent of our total business, it will go up to 30-40 per cent in the next few years.

What is your company’s current topline?

We earned Rs 167 crore during last financial year and are aiming for a sustained growth for the next few years.

What role will Hella play in reducing fatal road accidents in the country?

We have been pioneering the visibility safety technology for CV Industry and have been a catalyst in changing the fate of CV industry in terms of visibility. Our mission is to equip all these commercial vehicles to ‘see and be seen’. Apart from the LED lights for rear applications which I had just mentioned, we are taking technology for front lights to the next level with projector modules. That ensures higher luminosity with a marginal increase in prices. We wish to make sure that every truck plying on the roads should have a functional tail lights to the battery, which is a real life problem on our highways where signalling is missing from majority of trucks and hence a dangerous situation welcoming more and more road deaths. That will ensure visibility goes up and hence the chances of collision come down. If the signalling lights (of trucks) don’t work, it is equivalent to having human bombs on roads. Every day 400 people including 40 children die on the roads because of accidents. The latest data suggests that there are close to 147,000 deaths that have occurred on an annual basis out of 5 lakh accidents in the country. This is biggest unnatural death for the country. It will be really great if we can create awareness about it.

What is your vision for the company?

When we started our second innings here, we did a detailed study to understand the nuances of the market. We discerned that a lot of technological advancement possibility existed in the automotive lighting space backed by a time-to-market strategy. Many available technologies were not put to use in the visibility safety domain thus making road accidents quite rampant. So we came out with a concept called ‘Technology of Tomorrow for the Life of Today’ wherein we came out with a resolution to drive the market by bringing higher adaption for technologies which will arrest these alarming road deaths on our roads. Thus we created our vision that we will curb road accidents by 10 per cent by 2020. This vision was released by our board members in Germany in 2011.

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