Indian auto component and tyre companies serving the European market are going green.
That is not out of choice, but because of the new European Union norms for automobile recycling, which comes into effect in 2010, and prescribes that once a vehicle is destined for the scrap heap in the EU territory, 80-85 per cent of its parts ought to be recyclable or reusable.
That means every component -- batteries, airbags, catalytic converters, and auto plastics -- have to be safely disposed.
To cater to a changing market, Tata Autocomp last month announced the launch of country's first green battery. It uses calcium in place of the harmful antimony used in the old battery technology.
Apollo Tyres is gradually replacing carbon black with bio-degradable silica and has begun to use harmless aromatic oils in place of carcinogenic aromatic oils. Auto light manufacturers Lumax Industries is also using new material to ensure that its products meet the new European norms.
"We have been gradually replacing carbon black with bio-degradable silica. Plus, instead of using carcinogenic aromatic oils we've begun using harmless aromatic oils. Silica has beneficial properties. It reduces rolling resistance resulting in greater fuel efficiency," said Sunam Sarkar, chief, corporate strategy and marketing, Apollo Tyres.
Apollo Tyres derives 10-11 per cent of its total revenue from exports to Europe. "Tata green batteries use lead that has 99.99 per cent purity. Besides imparting high performance, it is also recyclable," said Yogesh Dhawan, CEO of Tata Autocomp GY Batteries.
Tata's green batteries cost the same as the old battery. "No premium is charged for this advanced technology," added Dhawan.
Automobile lighting manufacturers in the country have a significant exposure to the European markets. Lumax Industries, 65 per cent of whose turnover comes from lighting out of which 3 per cent is from exports, has begun making the transition to comply with the EU norms.
"To cater to the EU market, we've replaced hazardous chemicals like mercury, chrome, and lead with zinc that's biodegradable. There is zero tolerance of these banned chemicals," said Deepak Jain, executive-director, Lumax.
With its plants in France and Germany catering to the EU market, the Sona Group derives about 56 per cent of its total turnover from the EU region, while the Kalayani Group earns approximately 42 per cent of its total revenues from the EU region.
These Indian companies manufacturing precision forgings and castings have already complied with these stringent EU norms. "Our forgings don't contain heavy metals like mercury, lead and chrome," explained Surinder Kapur, chairman, Sona Group.