How Steelbird International is targeting cybersecurity to grow its automotive components business
Perfectly connected vehicles are seen as the future of the automotive industry. However, this connectivity should also make them vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Steelbird Internationalone of the leading players in the automotive components industry in India, is eyeing automotive cybersecurity to plan its next phase of growth.
Established as a two-wheeler filter manufacturing company in 1964 under the license of Raj, Steelbird International has come a long way to become one of the automotive industry‘s aftermarket leaders by integrating rubbers, bearings and lubricants in its product portfolio.
Talk to SMBStorythird generation entrepreneur Manav Kapur, The 55-year-old Executive Director of Steelbird International says: “Right now a very small percentage of vehicles, both internal combustion engines (ICEs) and electronic vehicles (EVs), are protected by cybersecurity solutions while the others, with their vulnerabilities, are vulnerable to attacks via a connected network. This is where we focus on providing solutions.
In 2022, Steelbird partnered with Cybellum Technologies Ltd.a provider of the product security platform enabling Indian automotive component OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to access solutions to detect, manage and remediate cyber threats and vulnerabilities.
The creation of Steelbird International
Steelbird International was born in the highly controlled automotive market in 1964. For about 30 years the company survived by managing demand alone, as Manav says exports were controlled and raw materials were hard to come by.
Manav’s grandfather Tilak Raj Kapour And father Ramesh Kapour built a two-wheeled filter manufacturing business by setting up a small factory in their hometown of Delhi.
The business operated quite well for three decades and in the 80s the company also moved into the manufacture of rubber parts. In 1991, India opened up its markets, opening up opportunities in the automotive industry.
“Although the market opened in 1991, it was for the best of Indian companies, but multinationals with deep pockets started to take the cake in the market and that’s when we stood up to stay nimble and market-ready. It was time to make the business survive and we did that,” says Manav. SMBStory.
With a strong following, including the likes of Royal Enfield, Bosch, televisions, and others, Steelbird International experienced rapid expansion between 1992 and 2018.
Image credits: YS Design
The company has ventured into the manufacture of rectifiers, regulators, pick-up and CDI coils, scooter indicators, magnetic fan crowns, case noses, resin stained glass and Steelbird tires, complementing thus the production panel of rubber components in two-wheelers.
“We are one of the largest aftermarket manufacturers and contributors to the automotive industry,” Manav says. He joined the company in 2005, and since then Steelbird has invested heavily in bringing major German technologies to India and creating technologies to up the game in the automotive components industry.
Recently, Steelbird International has also set up manufacturing operations outside India under a joint venture with TVS Auto Bangladesh to manufacture filters in Bangladesh for the comprehensive range of auto filters. Products will be produced for all types of automobiles – two-wheelers, three-wheelers, passenger cars, tractors and utility vehicles.
Steelbird has four manufacturing plants located in Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Noida and another to come in Bangladesh. Manav says the company is developing rigorously to leverage its partnerships with cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and machine learning companies to empower India’s automotive components market with technological solutions.
The Steelbird International plant
Asked about the changing EV landscape and how Steelbird plans to meet the declining demand for filters, Manay said, “The EV market is on the rise. Currently, it only has one percent penetration per year in India, which will take another five to eight years to grow. We don’t see our commercial contract in the next half-decade. In fact, there is no definite market established for EVs at present, but yes there will be a crisis and we are pivoting to cater to all ranges of the automotive space.
Manav expects that, overall, the component requirements for electric vehicles will be similar, with the exception of filters. For now, the company is facing challenges related to supply chain issues present across the world in addition to the shortage of raw materials.
Speaking of future prospects, Manav says Steelbird International is looking to collaborate with a partner with a strong R&D presence and explore new avenues in the automotive sector to venture into just like its latest cybersecurity bet.