In just over a decade, Tata Green Batteries has emerged as a leading and competitive lead acid battery supplier with cutting-edge technology. Its quality position can be gauged by the fact that it is the only Indian battery firm that has a joint venture, that too with Japan’s GS Yuasa Corporation which is the global leader in two-wheeler and four-wheeler batteries. Tata Green Batteries growth trajectory reflects in the fact that today it possesses the capacity to manufacture 1.5 million four-wheeler and 4.5 million two-wheeler batteries per annum. The company further plans to spend Rs 500 crore in the immediate future to enhance and expand the existing capacity and enter in newer market segments with growth potential.
No wonder, Tata Green has been bestowed upon with ‘India’s Most Admirable Brand – 2019’ award by ‘The Brand Story’. The award represents the most credible, transparent and differentiated standard of brand research. TATA Green Batteries was bestowed the award post rigorous study of parameters via primary and secondary research from more than 500 brands across various product categories. In the second stage, TATA Green was evaluated by an exhaustive audit conducted along with a comprehensive questionnaire evaluated by a prominent jury scoring the brand on areas such as brand promise, annual growth rates, innovation, goodwill, and penetration.
On the occasion Mr. Ravi Gupta, CEO, Tata Green Batteries, said, “It is a moment of pride for us. It only motivates and propels us to look higher, to fight more, and to get to the place where we want to be.”
For many companies, ‘Green’ is merely a word that is an adjunct to their names. Not so in the case of Tata Green Batteries, where ‘Green’ is a way of corporate life. The joint venture has zero tolerance to any kind of adverse environmental impact. For example, the recycled water from its plant is actually discharged into a fish pond, which implies that it is absolutely clean and pure. Even the smallest air exhaust from the factory is either scrubbed or passed through extraction systems to curb air pollution. The effluents are treated in a manner that no waste is discharged outside.
However, the company doesn’t wish to rest on this laurel. It now aggressively seeks the prestigious and global award for quality, the “Deming Prize”, which it hopes to win in the next few years.
Mr. Ravi Gupta
CEO, Tata Green Batteries
Ravi Gupta, Tata Green Batteries, can best be described as a go-to person for turnarounds. In the past 18 years, many organizations have come back to the black under his able management. He is a proficient team leader and thorough planner
Can you please tell us about Tata Green Batteries?
TATA Green Batteries is a 50:50 joint venture between TATA Autocomp Systems and GS Yuasa Corporation, Japan. Tata Autocomp from the house of TATA is one of the largest Tier 1 automotive component manufacturer and supplier to many reputed OEMs around the globe. GS Yuasa is World’s largest 4-wheeler automotive battery manufacturer with strong OEM relationship and world-wide aftermarket presence. Our journey in India started in 2006 with our battery manufacturing plant in Pune, which currently has a manufacturing capacity of 1.5million 4-wheeler and 4.5million two-wheeler batteries per annum. Our manufacturing capacity is being augmented continuously as we are constantly adopting new technologies. Today we have 20 CFAs, over 400 distributors, 10,000 plus retailers and 5000 plus mechanics/auto electricians associated with us. We are also suppliers to many leading automobile manufacturers across all verticals, be it 2-wheeler, 3-wheeler, 4-wheeler, off-roader and commercial vehicles in India. We are a young and vibrant team of 1,500 dedicated and passionate soldiers spread across the length and breadth of the country. There is 24x7 service support available to all customers, should they need us
How do you see TATA Green Batteries journey to date?
After continuous losses for 5 years till 2016-17, Tata Green Batteries turned the corner with the mantra ‘Go! TGY Go!’. In 2017-18 we registered 30% topline growth, which was significantly higher than the average market growth of 8%. What worked in our favour were product modifications, price rationalisation and positioning, aligning OEM and after sales market strategy, re-organization, increasing depth and width of distribution, driving cost saving programs in operations and vendor base rationalization.
In 2018-19, we set the mantra ‘Charge! TGY Charge!’ with the objective of increasing distribution, adding new OEMs, improving productivity, reducing rejections and investing in people. We evolved an innovative purchase strategy for lead, our most critical raw material, and upgraded our after-market support by leveraging digitization and empowering all stakeholders. Continuous Employee Engagement Programs and strong relationship with labor union greatly helped us to register profitable growth. Our topline registered 15% growth and our bottom line improved manifolds.
Reposing strong confidence in Tata Green Batteries, our JV partners have this year committed to invest Rs. 500 crores over the next few years to help the company acquire new technologies and enhance brand vitality. We have taken it upon ourselves to meet the expectations and aptly adopted ‘Rise! TGY Rise!’ as the mantra for 2019-20. The journey ahead is tougher and more challenging as we aim for the number 3 position in the Indian automotive battery Industry. So far, we are on the right track.
How are you leveraging technology and innovation to achieve quality and excellence?
Given the parentage of both GS-YUASA and TATA, we lay increasingly high emphasis on innovation. Our batteries excel in performance even in extreme weather conditions. Tata Green Batteries was the first to launch a battery which could go 1,00,000 kilometers without a top up. Our patented additives allow us to offer an E-rickshaw battery which not only lasts the longest but also gives the best mileage. Likewise, our distinct technical expertise in VRLA allows us to offer the finest battery for two-wheeler applications in India. This has helped us in becoming a preferred supplier to most OEMs in India.
We are cognizant of the changing technology and have become known as one of the early adopters. Tata Green Batteries will soon have unique and most effective Expanded Grid Technology, which will also help in showcasing Idle Start Stop Batteries. Our aim is to have full technology play in all segments and verticals of automotive battery sector. The company is also gearing to adopt and offer Li-Ion Technology to the Indian market at an appropriate time.
Driving business excellence through ‘Tata Business Excellence Model’ helps us to continue our strong march for raising the bar when it comes to quality and sustenance. Like any other Tata company, we have many on-going innovation projects which help us in our endeavour for continuous improvement. Tata Green Batteries is also aiming to achieve the ‘Deming Prize’ by 2022-23.
What are the company’s future plans for sales, distribution and branding? Are you looking to expand to newer geographies?
We are currently selling and servicing batteries in After Market and OEM Segment. In After Market, our focus is to ensure that we are present in top 3500 towns of India and have robust service support in all the places. We are also now investing in building our brand with emphasis on select ATL and BTL initiatives with clearly defined target customers in mind. The objective is to improve Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA) and Brand Vitality among our target customers. Going forward Digital advertising will be leveraged to a great deal to achieve our ambition on this front.
We are always eager to capture new OEMs and new platforms from existing OEMs. The quick wins in the last 2.5 years has propelled us to continue to strive expanding this segment. We also ensure that our presence is captured at OEM dealers through After Market tie-up with leading OEMs. We plan to enhance and project our customer service as a key differentiator from our competitors. TGY connect application is the first of its kind in the industry for warranty and complaint management. This gives us multiple advantages.
Being a joint venture company, we are authorized to expand in only select geographies. As a part of export strategy, we have presence in Nepal, Bangladesh, Australia and Bolivia. Our future plans include expansion into newer geographies in South Asia, South America and Africa.
Being in the business of manufacturing Lead Acid Batteries means that global environment conservation will remain one of the focus areas. What have your initiatives been in this respect?
Since we are into lead acid battery manufacturing business, we deal with lead and sulphuric acid which are hazardous. Being environment conscious, we ensure that the effluent from the plant is treated to a degree that we are able to use the treated water in our fish pond. We undertake air changes at regular intervals to ensure that air inside our plant is fresh all the time. The water-cooling tower helps in lowering the temperature inside the plant by 3-5 degree centigrade. We have also deployed rain harvesting units and planted over 400 trees this year to maintain the balance in eco-system. Tata Green Batteries has an efficient way of collecting used Lead Acid Batteries from the market which is diverted to recycling of Lead, again helping in preserving the environment. Blood Lead levels are continuously monitored and controlled for all associates across all levels. We also have solar rooftop system and carbon footprint management which helps us further in environment conservation.
Mr. Arvind Goel
MD & CEO, Tata AutoComp Systems Limited
Arvind Goel, TATA Autocomp Systems, guided the group through a path that entailed three joint ventures, and the acquisition of the Sweden-based Titan X, a global leader in engine and powertrain cooling systems. He currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Automotive Components Manufacturers Association and is Chairman of TATA Green Batteries Board.
The Indian Auto industry is currently going through a churn. What are the strategies that Tata AutoComp has adopted to maintain growth in these challenging times?
Automotive industry is currently facing a downturn, with sales down by anywhere between 15% - 50% for most OEMs. These OEMs are rationalizing inventory, downsizing manpower and taking block closures to reduce cost. We have aligned our sales strategy to Industry slowdown. At the same time, we are working on various initiatives to control cost and increase effectiveness such as Shared Services for common functions like Human Resources, Finance and Supply Chain Management. Tata Autocomp has initiated cost reduction programs, vendor base rationalization and consolidation, and manpower realignment to keep its cost structure down. Since I believe the downturn is temporary, we are not unduly worried. Instead, we are trying to use the situation to our advantage by exploring our entry into new technologies like Li-ion, new product categories like clutch systems and our march towards the Deming Prize. We have also invested significantly in upgrading our SAP System, which will give us better results when industry bucks the current trend.
How does Tata Green Batteries fit into Tata Autocomp strategy?
First and foremost, Tata Green Batteries is the only business in our fold which has significant presence in retail thereby providing us the last mile connect with the end consumer spread all across the country. Given its distribution depth and width, which is growing significantly ever since the company turned profitable, there lies a potential to leverage the same for building our After-Market product portfolio in the near future.
Secondly, Tata Green Batteries comparatively has more diverse OEM customer base amongst most Tata Autocomp companies. We have started leveraging its OEM relationship to introduce our other products as well. Likewise, the OEM relationship of other Tata Autocomp businesses is being leveraged to showcase Tata Green Batteries, where it doesn’t have a presence as yet.
Last but not the least, given the performance of Tata Green Batteries in the last 2.5 years despite tough market conditions, it has been identified as the strongest and biggest chariot of growth for Tata Autocomp. We strongly believe that the leadership team is charting the right course for the company and is poised to double its turnover in 3 years’ time.
Mr. Santosh Singh
CFO, Tata Green Batteries
Santosh Singh, a CA is the head of finance at TATA Green Batteries. He is responsible for profitability management, fund management, audit and controls. He contributed enormously to improve profitability, and set up robust accounting policy and processes.
What is your current manufacturing capacity and your future plans? How much investment do you plan, to take Tata Green Batteries to the next level of manufacturing?
We have already begun to expand our manufacturing capacity. Currently, we are running at full capacity with 3 lines of two-wheeler batteries and 3 lines of four-wheeler batteries.
With planned growth in After Market and OEM segments coupled with introduction of new technologies, our mid term plan envisages further addition of 4 more four-wheeler and 7 more two-wheeler lines along with few Expander machines. This will require us to have another manufacturing base in India.
Tata Companies give CSR initiatives their due. Can you tell us about your CSR activities and the impact you intend to make through them?
Being part of the Tata group, we have always believed and practiced that what we get from people must go back to them manifold. We work on programs like tree plantation, water conservation, mechanic/ auto electrician health check-up camps, education of under privileged children, spending quality time at old age homes and many other social programs as part of CSR. This is in addition to our contribution to relief funds during natural calamities.
Mr. Goro Iwami
Director, Tata Green Batteries
With international experience of more than 15years, Goro Iwami is one of the Director on the Board of Tata Green Batteries. He earlier looked at crucial markets such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, where GS Yuasa is the market leader.
How is the TATA Green Batteries India plant different from other battery manufacturing plants across India & other GS Yuasa plants across the world?
Tata Green Batteries is the only company in automotive lead acid battery industry which has one of the strongest and globally recognized JV partner in GS-YUASA. This allows it to imbibe most advanced technologies and manufacturing practices to offer distinctly superior products designed to meet the Indian market demands. The association with Tata further enhances the brand appeal and provides the most needed assurance to the consumer.
The Pune plant in India is evaluated on operations and quality related matrices of GS-YUASA plants in other Asian countries, where it has a leadership position. Environment, health and safety parameters are as stringently defined and controlled here as they are done in any other part of the world, including Japan.
The new technologies being given to India are most modern with few of them being put up by GS-YUASA for the first time anywhere in the world outside Japan.
How do you ensure engagement with other GS-YUASA affiliates?
We have access to decades of research and development work done by GS YUASA and can adopt various patented designs and processes, which help us in staying ahead of competition. There is in house R&D set up, which helps in technology transfer, improvisation and attuning the product benefits to endure Indian road conditions. Tata Green Batteries has Japanese experts in manufacturing, technical and quality function who help us in learning and implementing Japanese ways of managing factory operations.
The Technical Centre in Thailand is a central resource for all GS-YUASA affiliates to draw resource for any trouble shooting or development, which is leveraged time and again by Tata Green Batteries.
Mr. Anil Bhamre
Vice President, Sales and Marketing Tata Green Batteries
Anil Bhamre, Tata Green Batteries, oversees Distribution, Brand management and product management. He is best described as a customers advocate and modern marketing evangelist
Can you enumerate on your product portfolio?
Our DNA is providing batteries for mobility solutions. Therefore, we have batteries of all specifications and warranty promise in almost all the verticals of Automotive, E-Rickshaw and Two-Wheeler applications. The automotive range includes Passenger Cars, Utility Vehicles, Commercial Vehicles, Tractors and Off roaders. We also manufacture and sell certain batteries in stationary power backup application for home use, commercial generators and solar power stations.
The JV agreement has been recently modified and now Tata Green Batteries is allowed to manufacture and sell a wide range of industrial batteries, including UPS batteries for commercial and home applications. Tata Green Batteries is also preparing to venture into Li-Ion Battery industry since GS-YUASA is also a strong global player in this space.
Who is your target group and how do you wish to reach out to it?
Being in the business of both OEM and after market, our target group today comprises of different segments.One set of target group is OEMs who state their needs through RFQ, which helps us to study need gap analysis and serve them. We reach them through various tech shows and relationship building activities. Further the expertise and relationship of TATA Autocomp is leveraged to reach out to them effectively.
Our After Market target group comprises of consumers aged between 18 to 50 years, automotive (4W, 2W & E-rickshaw) or inverters. Research states that our product buying is mainly done by “male” consumers, influenced by mechanics and retailers. We reach out to our After Market target group consumers through innovative and strategic marketing initiatives comprising of digital medium, radio, cinema, select TV campaigns, activations, brand visibility in market place, service camps and loyalty programs (for retailers and mechanics).