Maruti’s new move can be a step towards sustainability

The S-Assist can replace the paper-based thick owner’s manual that comes with every new car sold, but the carmaker isn’t removing it from its cars just yet.

By:October 9, 2021 9:14 AM

Maruti Suzuki India’s new servicing initiative – the S-Assist that the carmaker started last week – could be a step towards sustainability, as this tool can replace the paper-based thick owner’s manual that comes with every new car sold.

The S-Assist is a virtual car assistant app; currently available free of cost to customers of the company’s cars sold through its premium outlet Nexa, it provides multimedia content like do-it-yourself videos, digital literature, and workshop assistance on smartphones. The app also gives car owners access to over 4,120 Maruti Suzuki workshops across India.

Essentially, it provides all the information currently available in the owner’s manual, and more (like booking a service, home pick-up and delivery, and service estimates through a digital assistant). Over 45 lakh owner’s manuals in the last three years.

According to data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, Maruti Suzuki sold 13,23,396 cars in FY21, 14,36,124 cars in FY20, and 17,53,700 cars in FY19. So, in the last three years, the carmaker has sold over 45 lakh cars, and this implies over 45 lakh paper-based owner’s manuals getting produced. Depending on the car model, this manual can be 100-200 pages thick.

“If we remove the paper-based owner’s manual from every new car that we sell, it can save 66 million sheets of paper per year and reduce carbon emissions to the tune of 197 tonnes,” Partho Banerjee, senior executive director, Service, Maruti Suzuki India, told FE.

“And it’s just a broad calculation.” However, the carmaker won’t remove paper-based owner’s manual from its cars in the near term. “The conventional manuals will stay for now, because it’s the duty of the carmaker to provide all the information about the car to the owner. We cannot immediately migrate to digital manuals because connectivity and access to digital manuals could be a challenge in certain parts of India,” Banerjee said.

He, however, added that the company will take a call on this (replacing the paper-based owner’s manual with the digital one) in due course of time. “We will also study customer behaviour and in which all ways they are getting conversant with digital information,” he said.

While the S-Assist is currently available only for Nexa customers and in English language, the carmaker will introduce it for Arena customers (through which it sells cars such as Alto, Swift and Dzire, among others) by the end of this financial year. It will also be available in vernacular languages such as Gujarati, Bengali, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada, among others, by that time.

The S-Assist app has been developed in assistance with Delhi-based AI start-up Xane.AI, which was nurtured by the carmaker under its innovation programme called the MAIL (Mobility and Automobile Innovation Lab) launched in January 2019 to foster innovation in the automotive space by collaborating with start-ups.

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