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Generating Insights on the Innovation and Business Profile of India's Automotive Industry

Transcendence of Frugal Innovation in India’s Automotive Components Sector

[Background] [Objectives] [Proposed Methodology] [Relevant Readings]

A project of:

Project team: Rajnish Tiwari and Siddharth Poornachandran

Start: Sept. 2015

Project status: Completed in August 2016

Keywords: Automotive; Automobile; Automotive Components; Open Innovation; Frugal Innovation; Innovation Path; Innovation Trajectories; Technology paradigms; India; Emerging Markets

Schlüsselwörter: Automobilindustrie; Automobilzulieferindustrie; Kraftfahrzeuge; Frugale Innovation; Innovationspfade; Technologieparadigma; Schwellenländer; Indien

Note for prospective cooperation partners: Details dealing with sensitive corporate information will be kept confidential. The confidentiality to details will be taken as the top priority and thereby help in sustaining the uniqueness of the respective collaborating organizations.



India has become known for creating cost effective, customer-focused products (frugal innovations) that can cater to price-sensitive, unserved customers including those at the Bottom of the Economic Pyramid (BOP). This paradigm is not only prevalent in sectors dealing directly with the end-consumer (Business-to-Consumer: B2C), but also in the Business-to-Business (B2B) areas, such as the auto components. Suppliers of compnents have acquired the role of crucial drivers of the innovation process that creates more effective solutions adding value towards the end product or process. This ‘frugal’ approach is widely recognized in the automotive component manufacturing sector. There are direct incidents of how some of the component manufacturers have become drivers for a better product through their innovative thinking and initiative to add value without negative cost impacts.

As compared to the previous year, the Indian auto component industry has registered a commendable 11.1 % growth in turnover during fiscal year 2014-2015 (see Figure 1). A significant investment in R&D is noticed not only through presence of global companies establishing technology centers in India, but also through activities involving Indian companies & their overseas subsidiaries. With the government’s support, the R&D sector in India is all set to witness some robust growth in the coming years. According to a study by management consulting firm Zinnov, engineering R&D market in India is estimated to be grow at a CAGR of 14 per cent to reach US$ 42 billion by 2020, while it stood around US$ 14.7 billion in 2012.

Turnover  - Auto Component Industry: 2010 - 15 .

Figure 1: Turnover of the the Auto Component Industry in India (2010-15)
Source: ACMA (2015)


The objective of this research is to assess, understand and evaluate the transcendence of frugal innovation in the automotive components sector in India. More specifically, this study aims to achieve the following:

  • Generate insights on the importance of R&D investment, impact of R&D technology carried out internally and externally in the Indian automotive component manufacturing sector.
  • Identify lesser known or hidden cases of (frugal) innovation from within the automotive components industry in India. The ownership structure of firms (foreign / domestic) is not relevant for the purpose of this study.
  • Identify the technological paradigm being pursued by firms by considering specific key players and understanding their technological growth.
  • Crystallize the overall innovation path by including non-technological innovations by the relevant firms.

Proposed Methodology

In order to collect the necessary information to meet the objectives, it is proposed to split the research process into three sections. As a first step, a theoretical foundation for the study would be created based on scientific/academic publications for topics such as frugal innovation, innovation trajectories, technology paradigms, automotive component industry and its key drivers. This, in a second step, would be then supplemented by a desk research in order to obtain general business information about the status quo and trends of automotive component industry in India. instances of Frugal Innovation in the automotive components sector will be thoroughly researched and recorded. Finally, case studies will be conducted by establishing direct contact with some of the most interesting and innovative companies in order to understand their innovation perspective and to understand the commonalities and differences in the innovation paths taken by them.

Relevant Readings

[ For any enquiries, please contact Rajnish Tiwari ]

Important notice: Research proposals containing project description generally depict initial ideas submitted by students in response to a call for project initiated by the RPGI team, or even on their own initiative. Even though the proposals are cross-checked and edited by the RPGI team before putting them in the public domain, no guarantees can be taken at this stage of the quality and/or other aspects of good academic practices. Their adherence is, however, duly examined when students submit their reports, and prior to any publication of the report.