The 2nd edition of India’s conference on CVF Off Highway held at Eros Hotel, Nehru Place, New Delhi, brought together senior professionals from the construction, mining, earthmoving, tractor, and agriculture equipment industry. It was attended by 250+ senior level executives, 40+ industry experts as speakers, and 35+ partners.
Harshvardhan Sharma, Head - Auto Retail Practice, Nomura, opened the proceedings with an inaugural presentation on the Indian Off Highway Industry. Giving a macroeconomic overview and the global GDP growth, he said: “The pandemic saw more than twice the impact we probably saw in 2008-2009 and we believe that with the ongoing geopolitical situation, inflation and tightening of policies, it will impact most of the economies. However, the good news for India is that it is leading the pack and we are likely to continue at the 7.8% growth forecast amongst our peers.”
The panel of experts debated on how the Construction and Mining Equipment segment faced similar challenges during the pandemic, but bounced back faster on the back of infrastructure spending and robust rural demand. Moderator Ashish Modani, Co-Group Head & Vice President, ICRA, set the tone by discussing the current situation, the challenges, outlook and trends for FY 2022-23.
Jaideep Shekhar, MD (Asia & EMEAR), TEREX (Material Processing India), said “In the last financial year, the industry has seen a 3% growth, however, Q3 was surprisingly below everyone’s expectations and there was de-growth in the industry by roughly 23%. The supply chain issues are an important factor behind this; however, the concrete machinery and the material processing segments did pretty well.”
Veteran industry expert Anil Bhatia maintained that if one looks at the overall scenario, you will have short-term hiccups because the geopolitical situation is very volatile: as finance rates go up, new equipment sales will go up and go down.
Said Sanjay Bajaj, VP, Head - Product Management, Wirtgen India, “In India, what we have seen in the last 1-2 years is that more than 40-50% are first-time buyers or new players. So, you just can’t rely on the existing players as they are also getting into sub-contracting. We need to penetrate newer markets and have products that are tailor made for projects, and which the customers can afford.”
The panel discussion on Tractor & Farm Equipment, moderated by Rahul Bhargava, Director Management Consulting Automotive Sector, PwC India, was on farming practices and how they will shape the growth of this segment.
Said Jujhar Singh Virk, President & Group Head (Strategy & Growth Avenues) at International Tractors (Sonalika & Solis), “Last year, the tractor industry crossed the turnover of commercial vehicles in terms of numbers, and this is a growing trend. Last year, in India, over 9 lakh farmers bought tractors from manufacturers.” He added that foreign countries like Germany, France, U.K and U.S.A have also started accepting Indian manufactured tractors.
G S Grewal, Jujhar Singh Virk, and Pradeep Rajan pointed towards the growth potential of the farm machinery sector in India. The contribution of tractors is over 90% in the farm equipment industry (INR 38,995 crores) and in 2020 (for the first time) tractor sales overtook sales of commercial vehicles. The underlying changes in the demand for drivers will also change how tractors of the future would evolve.
The panel discussion on “Digitization, Connectivity and Automation”, was moderated by Ashim Sharma, Partner & Group Head Business Performance Improvement, NRI Consulting & Solutions. “When we talk about connectivity, digitalization and automation in the off highway segment, we think of these machines not just as products, but as products with services loaded onto them, so much so, that they deliver solutions both in the farming and at construction sites,” he said.
S.K Jaruhar, Consultant, Kobelco Construction Equipment, added, “I got a first look at the telematics system way back in 2010 at Volvo; it was very innovative and unexpected.”
Ashish Jangale, Head - Precision Farming Solutions, Mahindra Tractor, spoke on how digitization and connectivity opens up a lot of new use and applications in agriculture, like land preparation, crop care, and harvesting, which are the three major stages in a crop’s growth cycle. “In today’s scenario, equipment can now be connected to IoT devices, and sensors can measure properties of soil on the go,” he said.
The session summed up how the emergence of new and advanced technologies are empowering owners, operators and dealers to access real-time updates on machines and insights into operations at project sites.
The third discussion shed light on the hot topic: Electrification and Hydrogen. Has the time come? It threw up information on new business models, the changing expectations of customers, technologies being developed by OEMs, and the way we are perceiving agricultural and construction equipment. The panellists also shared information on battery manufacturers, software capabilities of India, electric combustion and electric mobility, electrification and alternative fuels in the off-highway equipment industry.
In the discussion on “Off Highway Vehicle Rental, pay per use and financing in the post-Covid era,” panellists shared how renting equipment makes more economic sense. A few trends from the automotive industry like Ola and Uberization of taxis have trickled down to the construction and off-road equipment. India has been adopting trends like emission norms, technology transfer, and business models from the automotive sector into the off road, but there are concerns regarding the rising costs.
Drone Tewatia, Lead - Marketing & Business Development & KAM, PV Clean Mobility Technologies; Deepak Gupta, Vice President - Business Development, Bharat Forge; and Hrishikesh Kulkarni, CEO, Nandan Petrochem Limited, also gave some insightful presentations during the rather action-packed conference.
The CVF Off Highway conference is appreciated for its premium content and efficient on-ground execution. The next edition will be held in March 2023 in New Delhi and given the very good participation by the industry, the organisers expect a gathering of over 500 delegates, 60+ speakers and over 50 partners.