Contributing to Development of Indian Industries through Engine Supply
Growing demand for engines used in construction/industrial machinery
Kubota's engine business has a long history. In 1922, the company developed its first oil-based engines for the agriculture industry. Since then, Kubota has been leading the industry by supplying diesel and other engines that best meet the needs of each era. Today, Kubota boasts a leading global share of the compact industrial diesel engine market. Kubota is highly trusted by various manufacturers not only in Japan but also in Europe and North America because its high quality is backed by the four fundamentals of “Respect for Humanity,” “High Performance,” “Energy Efficient” and “Labor Saving.”
Despite the high reputation that Kubota engines have received around the world, the company's involvement in the Indian market has been sporadic because of the dominance of India's domestic engine manufacturers and Kubota's difficulty in penetrating this overwhelmingly pricesensitive market. However, Kubota has a history of providing technology for diesel engines used for Auto Rikshaws (tricycle taxis) and supporting development from the late 1990's. In 2014, Kubota established a new section within the engine division and tasked it with developing markets in emerging nations and regions, including India, Middle East and Africa. Hiromichi Iida, Manager, Market Development Group, Engine Global Marketing Department II, was tapped to lead this group. “In India, investment in infrastructure is expanding along with the country's rapid economic growth. At the same time, demand for engines used in construction and industrial machinery is also increasing; and we are taking full advantage of this opportunity by targeting Indian equipment manufacturers. India also faces chronic power shortages, and this has created substantial demand for power generator engines. There are many challenges to overcome, but we are committed to steadily capturing business opportunities in this vast market.”
How is Iida planning to respond to the current market environment, an environment in which domestic manufacturers' prices create stiff competition?
“Our initial focus is on developing export projects of the Indian manufacturers, which we expect to increase in the future. Although price is an important factor here, I am convinced that the Indian market will gradually come to recognize the proven high quality and performance of Kubota engines. Building on our track record in export projects, we then plan to gradually develop domestic projects in the volume zone of the Indian market.”
Chosen by an industrial machinery manufacturer in India: The high reliability of Kubota engines
One of the companies where Kubota engines have been delivered in India is the “Roots Group,” which has a base in Coimbatore in the south of India. It is a company group that boasts the greatest production in India of horns as a part for motorcycles and four-wheeled automobiles. In addition to the production of various different automobile parts, one of its main products is a “sweeping machine.” As the name suggests, these are machines that sweep roads and the floors of places such as factories. In the past, the company imported from manufacturers in Europe and America and worked to spread a culture of mechanization in the cleaning work in India, which previously relied on human power. The company has now started to develop and manufacture the machines internally and Kubota engines have been used on them.
“The machines imported from overseas were extremely expensive and selling them was quite difficult. We reached the conclusion that it would be best if we made the machines by ourselves so that we would be able to supply them at a more affordable price,” says Varun Karthikeyan, the Managing Director of Roots Multiclean. The development work was started two years ago. Apparently, the use of a Kubota engine had been decided without hesitation from the initial stages of the development. Why was that?
“We were already aware of Kubota engines as a highly reliable brand and the engine that had been mounted on the sweeping machines we had imported had also been a Kubota engine. It had high output, but excellent fuel efficiency and it is no exaggeration to say that the engines are No. 1 in the world for efficiency and high durability. We plan to export the machines overseas in the future and the engines have an established reputation worldwide, so we are certain that we will have competitive strength and superiority in the market.”(Mr. Karthikeyan)
Expanding use of Kubota engines to contribute to development of Indian industry
Kubota didn't just supply engines. Engineers traveled to India many times for discussions that advanced the development and customization of an optimal engine.
“I feel that our engineers have also learned a lot and have improved their technical skills. The heart of the sweeping machine is its engine, and I believe that joint development was a significant achievement for both companies.” (Mr. Karthikeyan)
Incidentally, this was the first achievement by the Indian manufacturer to develop a sweeping machine with diesel engine.
Development of the Indian market for Kubota engines has just started. How can Kubota penetrate a market dominated by low cost domestic engines? It is an uphill battle, but Kubota is committed to promoting the brand amid strong demand for engines.
“The first step is expanding the scale of our business and establishing bases in India. We plan to develop the Indian market with a view to local production in the future, which I believe will support industry in India and contribute to the growth of the Indian economy.” (Iida)