'My Passion To Make Drivetrain Parts Drove Me Into Manufacturing'

Shweta Bhanot Mehrotra
30 Jan 2024
08:15 AM
4 Min Read

Ashok Mehta says: “We could learn the art of making different and complex parts in small batches to meet the racing industry's needs.”


With over 32 years of experience in manufacturing automotive differential and drivetrain parts, Ashok Mehta has been instrumental in determining Emmforce Autotech's vision and growth strategies. A chartered accountant by education, he authored the world's first book ever written on axle shafts titled 'The World Around Axle Shafts'. He is the first-generation automotive industry entrepreneur from his family, who led the pack with pure passion and virtue of exploring the unknown territories into manufacturing drivetrain parts that no one wanted to make in India.

Being a first-generation entrepreneur with qualifications not in the technical world, how would you define your journey into manufacturing and the learnings so far?

I belong to a small town in Punjab, India, where my family used to run non-scalable traditional businesses. I wanted to be an engineer, but tuition culture did not go well with my father's ideology, and I chose commerce. To have a professional education and better exposure, I became a Chartered Accountant. Entrepreneurship was in my blood, and I never wanted to go to the job market or practice.

Somehow, my family got convinced to shift and venture into a scalable manufacturing industry, and I was given the mandate to set up a manufacturing unit for making axle shafts along with one of my brothers at industrial land measuring 1,300 sqm.

The journey into manufacturing since then has been very exciting. The diversification bug has bitten me several times, but my passion for making new drivetrain parts has always driven me back into manufacturing.

Why did you choose automotive, especially drivetrain parts?

Don't be surprised if I tell you that I did not know how an axle shaft looks like till we decided to start this business. The only reason I ventured into this was that my family, by virtue of their experience as truck owners, told me that these break a lot, and every four-wheeler uses them. This was enough to buy me into this business.

Axle Shafts in the category of drivetrain parts was just the start of my journey, but my real entry into drivetrain parts was when one of our US performance racing customers fell in love with our axle shafts quality and my passion for offering products that no one was willing to make for him. He realised I had the guts to venture into unknown territories and ship 74 samples weighing about 700 kg of different differential products in one shot. These samples covered 8'x8'x7' space in my office room, and three precious years gave me confidence that I was made for this type of business.

What, according to you, has been the turning point for Emmforce Autotech and why? Also, why are the two 'm's in the name?

The turning point for us was the year 2001 when this customer gave us the opportunity to make such a huge variety of drivetrain parts, and we proved him right. The next turning point came in 2015 when another US customer saw the same passion in me and got me into drivetrain sub-assemblies, another unknown territory at that time.

We could learn the art of making different and complex parts in small batches to meet the racing industry's needs. Since then, no customer has ever doubted our manufacturing capabilities, and there has been no turning back.

'EMM' in EMMFORCE signifies MEHTA, my family name, and FORCE behind this name is the force of the Mehta family that gives me the strength to grow.


While a one-stop shop for various drivetrain parts has its benefits, as a supplier, how do you prepare for days of no run and crisis like the pandemic?

In the last 30-plus years, we were blessed to be over-occupied with business and growth opportunities. The passion for making new products, and that too in unknown domains, makes us rare in the industry and the darling of our customers, who have always been keeping us busy.

Despite the lockdown of 37 days during the pandemic, we grew almost 45% in FY21 and another 25% in FY22.

Could you explain the performance racing vehicles segment and how it compares to 4-wheel drive vehicles regarding business share? Also, what are the new areas of interest?

The performance racing industry is a dynamic and competitive sector that revolves around designing, manufacturing, and distributing high-performance components for racing purposes. In this segment, we have specifically catered to off-road racing, Drag racing, Oval track, and dirt racing.

The 4-wheel drive industry is huge, and the performance racing vehicles are a sub-set of the 4WD vehicles. The only difference is that the performance racing industry expects niche high-performance products customised to meet additional needs like weight reduction, alternate materials, and alternate processes that enhance the performance yet meet the need to reduce the weight wherever required.

Our new focus segments are agriculture and EV. Emmforce Mobility Solutions Pvt. Ltd. (EMSPL) is going to focus on our new focus areas like agriculture and EVs.

We are venturing big time into the agriculture implements segment. Our new state-of-the-art robotic line for manufacturing world-class rotavator blades is under installation and will be ready for production in March 2024.

Apart from these, we are now focussing on the EV industry, and I am glad to share that we are ready with our first prototype of a fully indigenised e-rickshaw differential and plan to launch the production version in April 2024.

What are your plans following the listing of the company on bourses?

After listing, the focus will be on expanding on the above lines and taking the business to the next level.

Would you expand to other regions within India and other countries with manufacturing plants?

We haven't explored these opportunities yet but will look into them at the appropriate time.

What is the scope of business related to EV drivetrains and other biofuel vehicles?

We haven't explored any opportunities in biofuel vehicles yet, but we will go full throttle for the EV drivetrain, and the e-rickshaw differential is just the beginning.

What is the plant's current capacity at Baddi, Himachal Pradesh, and the scope of expansion there?

Given our industry's large product mix and unique nature, it becomes hard to share the product-wise production capacities. We have just completed the construction of a 70,000 sqft building at Baddi to accommodate our future business growth and plan to complete another 20,000 sqft in the next four months.

What are the various steps you have taken to make the business sustainable?

Our efforts have always been towards sustainability, like using recyclable materials, energy-efficient equipment, lean manufacturing processes, usage of daylights, rainwater harvesting etc.

Can you talk about exports and the focus countries? Do export markets seek ICE drivetrain parts, or is there a demand for components related to EVs and other alternative fuel-driven vehicles?

As of date, a major portion of our export business comes from North America and Asian countries. The EVs and alternate fuel-led vehicles are not so prevalent in the 4WD and racing industry, but the good part is that we are not seeing any change in drivetrain parts in newer technology vehicles.

Are JVs or new partnerships on the cards to take your companies to new highs?

The current growth plans are enough to take us to the next level. We will explore the opportunities of JVs and partnerships as we move forward.

What are your expectations from the upcoming interim Union Budget 2024?

I expect two things for the automotive components industry. One is the reduction in GST rate on parts from 28% to 18% as these are in no circumstances a luxury product, and this will help the country come out of grey market sales in this industry, especially aftermarket. Secondly, I would like the PLI scheme extended to project sizes above INR 50 crore. This should help India become an Atmanirbhar $5 trillion economy faster by nurturing the huge untapped potential of SMEs.

Also Read:

Weber Drivetrain Opens Manufacturing Plant In Pune

Dana Invests In Switch Mobility, To Supply E-drivetrain Components

Share This Page