Interview: Naresh Kumar

Naresh Kumar,
General Manager at Amphenol PCD

“Amphenol sets up manufacturing & assembly lines to fulfil electrical connectors’ requirement”

To complement our existing business and to further expand our product lines and technological capabilities, Amphenol has come up with Amphenol PCD, Chennai and their state of art manufacturing & assembly lines have been set up at Maramalai Nagar, Chennai to fulfil the requirement of electrical connectors to be used in Electric Vehicle, Rail mass transit, Data centre and Energy storage, says Naresh Kumar, General Manager, Amphenol PCD, in an exclusive conversation with Manu Tayal, Associate Editor, Energetica India. Kumar discussed extensively about Amphenol’s business expansion under Make in India, it’s product offerings, accomplished targets, FAME-II scheme etc.

“Shed some light on Amphenol in brief and its product offerings for the Indian market.”

Amphenol is one of the largest manufacturers of interconnect products in the world. The company designs, manufactures and markets electrical, electronic and fibre optic connectors, coaxial and flat-ribbon cable, and interconnect systems.
Amphenol Corporation was founded in Chicago, USA in 1932 and employs over 80,000 worldwide with product development and manufacturing operations on six continents. The primary end markets for the company's products are communications and information processing markets, including cellular telephone & data communication and information processing systems; aerospace & military electronics; automotive, electric vehicle, rail & other transportation and industrial applications. Our operations are located in more than 135 locations in 80 countries around the world.
In India, Amphenol PCD is providing HV (high voltage)/ LV (low voltage) connector and value-add solutions like HV/LV cable assembly, high Voltage power distribution box (PDU) together with customer specific solution.

“Please share details about Amphenol’s new plant in India. Can we say it a truly ‘Make in India’ initiative? What quality parameters the facility follows?”

Amphenol is not new to India, we have manufacturing footprints in India as old as 50 years. Complementing our existing business and to further expand our product lines and technological capabilities, Amphenol has come up with Amphenol PCD, Chennai and their state of art manufacturing & assembly lines have been set up at Maramalai Nagar, Chennai to fulfil the requirement of electrical connectors to be used in Electric Vehicle, Rail mass transit, Data centre and Energy storage.
Indubitably, it is a step towards ‘Make in India’ which is very similar to Amphenol tradition; ‘Think Global but Act Local’. We are also fulfilling Govt. of India ‘FAME-II’ scheme; since localization hold high accord in Fame-II scheme and it talks about 50% localization from April 1, 2019.
Further, our new facility is in compliance with standards like ISO 9001:2015, EMS14001-2015, IATF 16949:2016 to design and manufacture products so as to meet quality, reliability & durability; along with Industry specific Certification being followed meticulously.

“What is your take on the current scenario of FAME-II scheme? Will this help in reaching the country’s 2030 targets for EVs?”

Fame -II India scheme has been specifically designed to give a push to electric vehicle in multi-modal mode of transport. Clear sky and clean air during recent lockdown have also created a positive mindset towards faster adoption and manufacturing of electric Vehicle in India. In a first, detailed localization draft guidelines have been issued by the Department of Heavy Industry (DHI) putting out a list of key components for xEV manufacturers to localise with respective deadlines to avail the scheme across all approved vehicle category. It is aimed at incentivising all vehicle segment i.e. two-wheeler, three-wheeler vehicles, Passenger four-wheeler Vehicle, LCV and Buses and logistic trucks.
Amphenol PCD has already accomplished target of domestically manufacturing under this scheme in the category of High Voltage Cable assembly with connector, power distribution box and charging connector (AC, DC and Combo) assembly.

“Amidst Covid-19, what will be your key suggestions for the policy makers to help boost the EV industry in the country?”

Electric vehicles in India could represent a Rs 50,000 crore opportunity by 2025, and the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to accelerate the rate of adoption of EVs in the medium term. To boost EVs’ demand in India, the government should focus on both fiscal and non-fiscal impediments. Initial deployment of charging infrastructure should not be seen from the lens of generating profits rather as an opportunity to build a market and get customers accustomed to the e-mobility ecosystem.

“On the technological front, what kind of advancement India needs while adopting EVs, battery storage, charging infrastructure etc as compared to other countries?”

Globally, it has been understood that for a sustainable uptake of EVs, charging infrastructure is a vital key. A market assessment study of the US, Germany, China, Japan and Finland has shown that apart from the subsidy support, various fiscal and non-fiscal incentives have played a defining role in improving the business viability of setting up a charging infrastructure. The automotive industry in India is at the cusp of a great transition. The transition from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs) is crucial from the point of view of sustainability and clean energy.
We are in nascent stage of adoption of EV. A steady increase in energy capacity and decline of battery cost would result in EVs with longer range. In India, We expect phenomenal growth of charging infrastructure over 100 times in next 15 years, however, pace of growth towards EV in India needs to be hastened as compared to global surge.

“How EVs can become more affordable for the end customer?”

Many people overestimate the cost of an electric vehicle (EV). In fact, switching from a gasoline powered vehicle to an electric one means lower costs of vehicle ownership for everyone. Electric vehicles have a big price tag attached to them, but EV maintenance is cheaper because EVs have far fewer moving parts, don’t require oil changes, and don’t have timing belts, fan belts, spark plugs, head gaskets, cylinder heads, air filters exhausts, transmission fluids or mufflers. Additionally, EVs have regenerative braking that uses the electric motor to slow the speed rather than the brakes, allowing further savings on brake pads and rotors. Also, average prices are already lower for electric vehicles in certain vehicle segments.
The battery is the most expensive component in an electric vehicle; the goal is to reduce battery costs significantly to industry-leading levels. New, low-cost batteries are being designed to last for a million miles of use and enable EVs as to sell profitably for the same price or less than a gasoline vehicle.
In current scenario, Electric vehicle prices are largely determined by the cost of the battery, so, battery leasing is another option to reduce cost at initial purchase which exclude cost of battery and it is an ongoing payment for your car’s battery. But unlike a phone or a car on finance, you won’t own the battery after you stop paying the lease.
The useful thing about leasing is that if the battery begins to depreciate, the leasing company will send you a new one.

“Why EV connectors, Cables and Junction boxes have been less talked about, even though one of the important components of the EV system? Is this the case that customers are not much aware about their significance?”

EV connectors, junction boxes and cables are very often overlooked as they aren’t a large % of the BOM costs. However, it’s been shown that poorly designed connectors can account for nearly 70% of PV system failures. This is why we make every effort to ensure we make the highest performing connector. Our customers and we realize that UL and IEC standards are only a baseline for checking the product, but not necessarily indicative of the real life conditions our products will see during their usable life. Therefore, we conduct random quarterly environmental testing on our production parts. This testing goes far beyond the requirements of UL and IEC standards. Sometimes 2x or 3x the standard and also with mechanical loads added to the environmental and electrical exercise.
It’s not good enough to certify once and trust that the same quality will continue as production tools wear and material lots may vary. This is why we repeat the harsh testing every 3 months on real production parts.

Interview 05/11/2020 by Manu Tayal
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