Wabco Holdings, the Warren Buffett-backed auto parts maker, has cornered a majority of the market in several segments in India, but the company said its innings in the country is only just beginning. New laws making advanced braking systems mandatory and intensifying competition in the auto segment due to the emergence of new players will push up demand for Wabco’s products in the country, its top official said.
“We see opportunities related to safety which will emerge from the government mandate, such as antilock braking system, as well as other technologies that increase vehicle efficiency like automatic manual transmission,” Jacques Esculier, chairman and CEO of Belgium-based Wabco Holdings, told ETin an interview.
He said this will lead to an increase in content per vehicle, a key metric in the automobile sector. “Our market is $3,000 (Rs1.8 lakh) of product and systems in Europe. It goes down to just a few hundred dollars in India. So that gives you the room to progressively bring those technologies to India.”
Four years ago, Wabco IndiaBSE 4.74 % exited its four-decade-old joint venture with the Venu Srinivasan-owned Sundaram ClaytonBSE 4.47 % by acquiring a majority stake in Wabco-TVS, which was making air-braking systems.
Since then, the entire range of Wabco Holdings’ products has been made available to Wabco India.
Wabco India, which is listed on the Indian stock exchanges, has grown its top line at a compounded annual growth rate of 12.5% since the exit to the end of fiscal 2013. Profits have grown 13.3%, despite a slowdown in the commercial vehicle industry. “Our objective is not top line or bottom line. It is to outperform the market in every region we are in and India fits in perfectly,” said Esculier. “Last year, Wabco outperformed the global market by 8%.”
The $2.7-billion ( Rs16,150-crore) company derives 62% of its sales from Europe and 19% from Asia. About 23% of revenue comes from after-market sales. In India, Wabco has a whopping 85% share in the air-braking systems market covering medium and heavy trucks. Now Wabco India is looking to bring technologies like anti-lock braking systems and automatic manual transmission, which is its parent company’s key strength.
Wabco is betting that the changing Indian commercial vehicle landscape, which now has 12 players compared with two until a decade ago, will push demand for new fuel-efficient technologies. Wabco counts Daimler and Volvo among its top customers in a list that includes Ashok LeylandBSE 4.41 %, Tata MotorsBSE 0.48 %, MAN and Scania.
“The entry of new players has accelerated the phase of standardisation of technology, safety and reliability. While foreign players are eyeing the local market, Indian players looking to become globally competitive,” said Esculier.
Analysts expect the immediate benefit for Wabco India to come from the government mandate to implement anti-lock braking system (ABS), a safety system to prevent uncontrolled skidding while braking. ABS was made mandatory in Europe in 1997 and in the US in 1999. In India, ABS is mandatory for trucks carrying hazardous goods and is being extended to other vehicle types.
“ABS is obviously the major contributor to safety on the road for commercial vehicles. It has been proven that way in different areas of the world so far. In India, it is taking shape,” said Esculier.