Surendra Kumar was very excited when he bought first car for his family, though on a comfortable EMIs. Every morning he would clean his car himself and would leave S for office. Months passed and Surendra was enjoying his car, coming late, going for the late evening drives and to hill stations for picnics. After few years, while he was returning from office, passing through heavy rains, he realized a dampness on the floor. The car floor-mats were not just wet but he also felt some rain water flowing inside from doors. Surendra was shocked as this was not expected from a car which was not that old.
Next morning he went to the showroom and complained about it. He was informed that the floor of the car and door was damaged due to rust, caused by water and pollution. One reason was also as Surendra was parking his car outside which was prone to humidity and pollution. But this is the way most of the car-owners park the cars.
Surendra was advised to replace both, the car floor and door, immediately, as this could further damage the car body. This is the story of most of the car owners in India as surprisingly almost
none of the cars manufacturer in India use galvanized steel in car body, causing early rusting and damages to the cars. Surendra had to shelve a heavy amount to get the car floor and door changed and he had to be mentally ready for the same issue after couple of years. Ironically, as the largest car purchases is by middle-segment of society, the importance of life of car is much needed. The issue of rusting of cars hurts this segment of society more than the car owners who buy high-end cars, which are generally galvanized and where the owners replace the car in short span of time.
Rusting in the car body is like cancer, often it is detected quite late and once detected, it is not easy to cure. Indian car manufacturers use about 3% galvanized steel for the cars manufactured and sold in the domestic Indian market. However, the same Indian car manufacturers use over 70% galvanized steel for the same models they export to markets in Europe, Asia and Africa and produced from the same stamping and assembly facilities. The car companies are not presently using galvanized steel for the domestic market because Indian consumers are not demanding it.
Apart from durability, treatment of steel used in automobile manufacture with zinc led to a better looking car body, reduced body weight, enhanced safety and resultant fuel efficiency. The problem is critical in terms of environment. Every 90 seconds across the world one tonne of steel turns into rust. Of every two tonnes of steel produced, one tonne is produced to replace rust. As per the reports, the overall loss due the corrosion is close to 3-4 % of India's GDP where part of it can be avoided by adopting the right technology at the planning stage.
It has been well documented in the literature that in the 1970's, the automotive industry in North America became increasingly concerned about the high incidence of car corrosion and body panel perforations leading to significant safety concerns. The major reason causing this unacceptably high rate of car body corrosion was the use of road deicing salts during winter and the increasing amount of industrial (acid rain) pollution.
Starting in the mid 1980's, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) and the three major car makers, General Motors, Ford Motors and Chrysler Corporation, jointly participated in several parking lot corrosion survey of cars in the Detroit, Michigan area. Based on the results of this survey, as well as pressure from consumer advocates like Ralph Nader, the car companies converted from cold rolled to galvanized and galvanneal steel for the exterior, interior, and under-body parts. improvements in base coat and clear coat paint technologies were also made concurrently. The results of subsequent surveys, after the introduction of galvanized steel, showed dramatic improvements which heralded the car companies issuing 10+ year warranties against corrosion starting in the mid 1980's. Europe, Japan and South Korea soon followed the North American
decision to use galvanized sheet steel for the entire car body.
In the summer of 2015, an extensive study of automotive body corrosion was conducted in Mumbai area by IIT Bombay to track corrosion performance of currently used materials of construction in Indian made cars costing less than Rs. 10 Lakhs.
The study used similar methodology to that used in North America to check for visible perforations, paint blisters, and surface red rust. The survey was conducted in several coastal and other humid regions of Mumbai. The results were surprisingly similar to those seen in the Detroit, Michigan survey despite the fact that no road deicing salts are used in Mumbai. The IIT report proved that there is a corrosion problem affecting the durability and the eventual safety of cars in India.
Indian car manufacturers use bare cold-rolled steel and its variants, while abroad it is mandatory for auto companies to use galvanized steel bodies.
Tata Steel, POSCO Maharashtra & JSW all have the facilities to produce exposed quality galvanized or galvanneal sheet to supply the automobile companies in India. There are no constraints in meeting the exposed quality steel demand required to convert all the parts from cold rolled to galvanized steel.
A new BIS Standard for Automotive steels is currently in final draft stage. The proposed Standard will require car companies manufacturing cars in India to use one of several zinc coated steel options for cars sold domestically. However, until this BIS Standard is officially released, car manufacturers are not obliged to use galvanized steel.
It is true that globally galvanized steel car bodies have been shown to experience minimal corrosion attack which protects the structural integrity and safety of the vehicle, improves the resale value, provides consumer protection due to anticipated warranty improvements by the car companies, lowers maintenance costs of underbody and structural components due to the use of zinc coated steel and saves consumers the costs of after-market anti corrosion treatments and annual inspections.
With due emphasis on 'Make in India', India is expected to become a major automobile manufacturing hub and the third largest market for automobiles by 2020, according to a report published by Deloitte. India is currently the seventh-largest automobiles producer in the world with an average annual production of 17.5 million vehicles, and is on way to become the fourth largest automotive market by volume in few years.
India is on the threshold of major reforms and is expected to rank amongst the world's top three growth economies and amongst the top three manufacturing destinations by 2020. India's manufacturing sector has evolved through several phases - from the initial industrialization to the current phase of global competitiveness.