A recent Moody's Investor Service report stated that India is the third-largest finished lubricant market in the world, behind the US and China.

With general economic recovery and consumer preference shifting towards personal mobility, the demand is expected to grow at a steady pace. The automotive market of India saw a growth of 27 percent in 2021 alone. In an exclusive interview with TOI Auto, we spoke to Machteld De Haan , Executive Vice President, Shell Lubricants to understand how the oil and lubricants company is planning to expand its presence in India and what are the new opportunities that they are excited about.

The growing market of India is also witnessing a shift towards more sustainable mobility solutions such as bio-fuels and electrification.

"Shell is the first company to introduce premium products made from natural gas and products that are more sustainable. We have products that are either biodegradable or made from re-refined base oils. For EVs we have multiple ranges of products such as EV-specific transmission fluids that are very specific to the EV drivetrain. An electric vehicle also has a battery that needs thermal management and we have products for that as well. We launched our first EV fluid range back in 2019, so we have been in the business for a couple of years. We are constantly working with large OEMs to improve these technologies, for instance our EV fluids are being provided to Mahindra for their Formula-E car. This helps us test our products under very extreme conditions and make them better." Haan said during the interaction.

Currently, Shell is among the top three market players in India in the passenger car motor oil (PCMO) sector. The company sees India as a key growth market that will be amongst its top five markets by 2027.

Haan says, "While better products are a bucket that we focus on as a key priority. Our second priority is that we want to grow in the industrial sector, as it is the largest market and a growing sector as well. It includes agriculture, construction and power. All these sectors grow when the GDP grows and we want to make sure that we increase our footprint in that space. We have growth markets such as India, China, Indonesia and Brazil, where we want to grow."

"We also want to grow into customer solutions which means we want to move from just products to customer solutions by offering services to B2C customers. This includes oil changes, services, multi-care and also provide B2B services such as oil monitoring, reliability services, total fluid management and lastly we also want to expand into new sectors. This means looking into thermal fluids for fluid management in batteries or data centres." Currently, Shell Lubricants reach is 50 thousand outlets in India, which the company aims to double by 2025. The plan is to expand presence in North and East India by investing in its distribution infrastructure (Feet-on-the-ground).

While the company sees scope to grow in motorcycle oil and commercial vehicle oil sectors too, there is another unconventional opportunity that has captured Shell Lubricant's attention. That is of India's growing market of data centres. All the electricity that is used by IT components in a data centre, generates heat that needs to be managed. "Data centres are particularly interesting because today most of them are being air-cooled and use a lot of energy.

With our new immersion cooling fluids that we are producing, we can reduce the temperature of the data centres and the computing power they need, helping them reduce their overall carbon footprint. Our immersion cooling fluids will be piloting in India very soon!" Haan said.

Compared with traditional air cooling, single-phase immersion cooling technology as an integrated solution can reduce energy use and carbon emissions in data centres by up to 48 percent through its high cooling efficiency which is advantageous for data centres of all sizes. What's more? The immersion technology can also be applied to EVs as well, so it is a win-win for Shell Lubricants India.