As automobile market gets stronger, the paints industry to ride the boom: Nippon Paint India president Sharad Malhotra


NEW DELHI: The market for automotive paints had gone down during the period of Covid lockdowns and restrictions, but has come up strongly as buying picked up as industry opened up and businesses and schools started coming back to pre-pandemic levels. Led by the resurgence, the automotive paints industry sees a healthy growth over the coming years, with a forecast of 30% CAGR between 2021 -2026. TOI speaks to Sharad Malhotra, Automotive Refinishes and Wood Coatings president at Nippon Paint India. The company has also launched a new pan-India initiative towards uplifting, rewarding, and recognizing the garage painter community and identify India’s top car painters.
How do you see the market for Automotive Paints & Coatings market in India?
While the demand had been suppressed over the last few years, the current year can be pivotal for India’s automotive paints market in terms of growth & development. With the Covid situation stabilising, and a build-up of favourable market scenario across the automotive sector, the paints market is also expected to witness a decent growth. In terms of business value, we expect to hit pre-pandemic levels soon. India’s automotive paints market is exhibiting a lot of positive trends due to initiatives such as the scrappage policy and also changing market dynamics. The industry is estimated to grow at a CAGR of over 30% between 2021 -2026.
What are your views on India’s automotive after-market?
Over the past couple of years, India’s automotive industry has experienced a sharp rise in the sale of second-hand or used vehicles. The market for used vehicles is expected to take over the driver’s seat as we move ahead. As per a recent industry estimate, the used car market in India is expected to reach a volume of 70 lakh units in 2025-26, from 38 lakh units in 2020-21. This sharp growth across the used vehicle segment will further trigger the growth of automotive paints and consumable solutions.
What are some of the global trends that have started to make their way into India’s automotive paints and coatings market?
If we talk about the Commercial Vehicles segment, the Indian coating industry is quite ahead of many Asian counterparts and is gradually catching up with the European markets as well. The latest technologies that we have observed within the market have largely been dedicated towards higher productivity solutions like the Wet-on-Wet (WoW) systems that are available in some European markets too. The emergence of new technologies and trends is further enabling companies to reduce the processing time, while increasing the overall productivity. On the products side, more focus is coming on Low VOC or Water-base systems which are more environmentally friendly and sustainable for the ecology.
Can you share a brief about Nippon’s product portfolio here in India?
We have an extensive and wide portfolio, comprising several products and solutions. Our range includes new-age technology-based paint solutions such as WoW primers, direct-to-metal (DTM) coatings, fast drying clears, and the scratch-resistant and self-healing CyGlaz protective finish. Our WoW systems offer higher productivity than conventional systems which in turn saves cost as well improves overall productivity of the finish.
Being one of the largest producers of paints and coating solutions for commercial vehicles, what benefits does Nippon offer to the users?
Our expertise in being “Paint Process Specialists” has enabled us to provide solution-based resolutions to our customers’ coating dilemmas. With the help of technology and core R&D, our products have been able to offer customers paints and coating solutions which are more durable and provide a premium quality finish. We also offer solutions that are beyond paints and have actively assisted to design painting line/ system in production workshop.
What are some of the new-age solutions introduced by Nippon in India?
R&D plays a pivotal role at Nippon Paints. We have an independent and dedicated R&D team in India and are now well on our way towards achieving “Atma Nirbharta”, or self-reliance, with major solutions being customized and indigenously developed locally. Various paint solutions such as the stain-free solution – that restores the original finish in extreme and diverse Indian climatic conditions — are some of the few paint innovations that have been indigenously-developed here.
What are your views on the PLI scheme and how important has this intervention been from the industry’s point of view?
Keeping in mind the ongoing exodus of OEMs from China, the introduction of production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme has been a game changer for India’s automotive industry. The PLI incentives will help attract several OEMs to come and set up their base here, turning India into a hotspot for automotive manufacturing. Owing to the availability of cheap labor, land and investment-friendly policies, the industrial segment in the Indian subcontinent is poised to experience an upswing. We have already witnessed several companies shifting their base from China to India, especially a lot of OEMs and electric vehicle manufacturers. This will have a ripple effect across India’s industrial coating market as well.
How has the Covid pandemic impacted the automotive refurbishing business in India and what sort of recovery have you observed so far?
As public transport stopped during lockdowns, the production of school and luxury buses came to a standstill along with the reduction in consumer demand for passenger vehicles. This had an adverse effect on India’s automotive paints and coatings industry. Owing to the Covid-induced lockdowns and challenges, the industry observed its first revenue de-growth of the decade. As per estimates, the demand for automotive paints and coating solutions went down by almost 50% during this period. However, in the last quarter of 2021, we observed various OEMs and affiliates getting back with orders with encouraging movement along the production line. Various state transport departments are also in a revival mode, as they launch tenders for new buses and maintenance of the existing ones.
India’s automotive painters were among those who were the hardest hit during the pandemic. What are your initiatives to help them tide over the difficult period?
The pandemic-induced lockdowns were indeed quite harsh for the painter community and especially when it comes to the automotive refurbishing industry. To help them, we have launched a unique, pan-India program called ‘Rangon Ke Badshah’ that aims to uplift, reward, and recognize the garage painter community and identify India’s top car painters. We are connecting over 10,000 car painters across the country through a nationwide outreach programme which includes skills contests, loyalty benefits as well as benefits like accidental insurance, education grants for children and other rewards.

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