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Steelbird International looks beyond ICE products for growth

The Delhi-headquartered company is looking to bring in products that is powertrain agnostic.

Delhi-based Steelbird International, an automotive filter manufacturing company is now looking at a lot of new technologies, including the EV space. It is looking “forming some partnerships and targeting growth for non-Internal Combustion Engine products for growth.”

Manav Kapur, ED, Steelbird International tells Express Mobility that it has “been talking to a lot of companies from across the globe on a lot of EV components and also on products which are not exactly EV specific but are components which will be enhanced in the EV space.”

To put things into perspective, Steelbird International is a manufacturer of automotive filters, rubber parts, helmets and plastic components among others. It was at the Auto Expo 2020, it had introduced a new range of tyres, which it claims was specifically developed for the electric three-wheeler segment. But unfortunately, the company’s expectations in the segment didn’t meet the targt.

Kapur says, “We haven’t seen a lot of the kind of growth we’ve seen in the other sectors (read product portfolio). We haven’t seen that kind of growth in tyres for us because the industry generally has more of overcapacity now. That’s why the market is very competitive for us, and the major growth has come from the aftermarket space.”

While Kapur does not reveal the exact quantum of growth for the company, he says its overall production has been in the range of 80-90 percent capacity utilisation. “Probably, we are one of the very few companies who actually added capacity during the pandemic. We added machines and set-up a new plant as well in Pantnagar.”

It was in March, that the company announced a partnership with TVS Auto Bangaldesh to set-up a manufacturing facility for automotive filters in the neighbouring country. The range of auto filters will be manufactured for all types of automobiles – two- three-wheelers, passenger cars, tractors and commercial vehicles. In fact, Kapur is bullish on the operation and says that he expects “Rs 100 crore revenue in next three years just from the Bangladesh operation alone.”

On the other hand, Steelbird has been looking at entering new segments to up its value addition offering for the automotive segment, for instance, its partnership with Isreal’s Cybellum Technologies, for advanced cybersecurity solutions for the automotive industry. 

“We are looking at what are our core competencies and what is the need of the hour. For example, the cybersecurity solutions that we are providing is based on the new connected vehicle space shaping up in India. Most of the vehicles are going to be connected in future. And so as soon as you get the car connected, you’re vulnerable to the internet access. So that’s what we looked at. And we saw that there’s hardly anyone doing any cybersecurity in India for automotive applications. And we looked at what the best companies to look at and partnered Cybellum Technologies to bring the solutions to India.”

The Indian automotive aftermarket is pegged at more than Rs 50,000 crore, no wonder that there are players big and small trying to grab a piece of the demand.

“The larger players are getting aggressive and the smaller ones are having a tough time to fight them out. That’s what the trend has been. A lot of people have gone bust during the pandemic, especially small companies. They couldn’t keep it afloat for six months or eight months and the market was really down. The unorganised players are losing out and that’s where the sentiment is going back. If you look at it, there’s a lot of bad sentiment in the market. They are forced to wait. They’re not that good the way they were and that is coming primarily because the organised sector has suffered a lot and they were in masses. There are few companies who are scaled up, but a large number of companies are really small. That’s why the sentiment looks to be stronger on that side,” concludes an optimistic Kapur.

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