Introducing consortium research in Indian automotive sector
Collaborative Automotive R&D (CAR) is an academia-industry collaboration platform created by Office of Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, in the year 2003. The objective were to create and keep updated a technology roadmap for the Indian automotive industry; and developing a process by which automotive R&D can be conducted cooperatively between government, industry, academia and national laboratories.
TIFAC has been leading the foresight activity under CAR, and had coordinated the implementation of the inter-ministerial technology programme during 2004 to 2010. Ministries of Heavy Industries, Information Technology and Road Transportation participated in this programme.
TIFAC developed a Technology Roadmap for the Auto Industry during 2004-2006, by consulting industry leaders, academic experts, industry associations and government ministries. TIFAC has taken up detailed foresight work on several of the priority areas identified.
Technology Roadmap for Electric Mobility was prepared for the Department of Heavy Industry, which is formulating the National Mission on Electric Mobility (NMEM). Further, foresight studies were taken up on: Impacts of plug-in electric vehicles; Transmission technologies; and Lightweighting of vehicles. The findings have been published in industry technology journals and at SAE forums.
Pre-competitive consortia projects
Close interactions between various stake-holders led to 10 pre-competitive collaborative R&D projects, each having more than half- dozen partners. Focus areas were: (a) Automotive Electronics & Control Systems (b) Advanced Materials & Manufacturing (c) IC Engine & Power-train (d) Electric & Hybrid Electric Vehicles.
Among other things, CAR programme brought about an attitudinal change in automotive industry, with competing companies collaborating in R&D projects. The efforts that show significant impact potential are:
- A Vehicle Tracking and Control System was developed and deployed in Chennai city bus fleets, and also led to a new telematics company being incubated by Ashok Leyland.
- A model-based low-cost Engine Control Unit was commercialized by IIT Bombay incubated company, with the participation of TVS Motors
- Acoustic Diagnosis System for engines developed by IIT Kanpur was found acceptable by TVS Motors
- New metal forming technologies like tailor-welded blanks, hydroforming, and semi-solid forming were also developed.
- Materials and prototypes for ultra-capacitor and hybrid capacitors were developed
- A scientific investigation into combustion related properties of non-edible straight vegetable oils was carried out and also a position paper on the NOx emissions control was prepared.
The CAR platform also led to joint technology development efforts involving Indian Academia & Industry with Fraunhofer Geschellshaft, Germany. The first project agreement has been signed with financial support from Technology Development Board (TDB).