By Rajendra Petkar
Technology and cars are a match made in heaven. However, this union has taken its own time to consummate, albeit punctuated with significant advances in this area over the years. That is until now, when we are seeing technological breakthroughs showing up in quick succession.
Despite the slowdown in the automotive sector in the last 18 months, the market for connected cars in India has seen a steady growth. A study by Ovum predicted that the global connected car market will grow from 59 million vehicles in 2016 to more than 308 million vehicles by 2022. While China, Europe and the US account for around 80% of the total global market, India is showing one of the highest growth rates. In India, connected cars are set to increase to around 1.7 million vehicles by 2022, from less than 300,000 in 2016. The penetration percentage of connected services in the Indian automotive industry is currently around 2%, and is expected to grow in the range of 15-20% by 2025.
A prominent element in the future of the connected car segment will be the role of telematics—the effective interaction of data from inside the vehicle with all the information from the outside world, through a suite of services. The traction for telematics is already strong in the commercial vehicle segment, and the technology is making steady inroads in passenger vehicles. Telematics has the potential for Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) connectivity with the application in the areas of navigation, entertainment, remote tracking, safety alerts etc. On Vehicle-to-X (V2X) front, it allows a vehicle to connect to IoT devices.
According to the Global Telematics Market Report (Netscribes), the global telematics market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 28.5% between 2017 and 2022 to reach a global revenue of $233.24 billion by 2022. That said, the adoption of telematics across PVs in India has been relatively slower. It can be attributed to the cost of the technology relative to the perceived customer value, as well as to lack of general awareness about telematics.
No longer point A to point B
Urbanisation, along with the changing needs and demands of customers, has led to OEMs introducing connected vehicle services in India. They are installing safety features, upgraded infotainment systems and enhanced navigation systems. Our association with the geocoding solutions provider What3Words is in line with this. The service assigns each 3m square in the world a unique 3-word address that will never change. This facility is helping transform vehicle navigation across the globe.
Although driverless cars are a distant reality in India, a more practical alternative is semi-autonomous features (ADAS, or advanced driver-assistance systems) such as hands-free parking, lane departure warning system. As part of our showcase of future-ready concepts, the Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) has demonstrated autonomous driving capability on the roads of the UK, on Hexa MUV.
Is India ready for autonomous?
Keeping in mind India’s infrastructural limitations, automakers are creating an extended portfolio of connected features accessible to customers by pricing them reasonably. These include remote vehicle health monitoring, unauthorised entry detection, critical vehicle alerts, remote vehicle access, and stolen vehicle tracking and immobilisation, to name a few.
The encouraging part, however, is that India has shown readiness. On the KPMG’s 2019 Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index (AVRI), India was ranked 24th—though slipping from 20th in 2018—on its level of preparedness for autonomous vehicles. Having said that, these vehicles will largely be the domain of shared mobility players to start with, considering that globally some leading cab aggregators have begun testing this technology.
Driving home the point
As the connected vehicle infrastructure and the ecosystem at large improves in India, the benefits of connected cars will be manifold and may become a purchase reason for car buyers sooner or later. Having said that, even the most dramatic predictions suggest only one in 10 journeys will be fully autonomous in 2030. That means 90% vehicles will be driven by people who will expect—and demand—that their experience of the car meets their expectations of the brand. So, the fundamentals—price, features, mileage/range, comfort, technology—will be the primary drivers of the car purchase decision.
While autonomous vehicles stimulate imagination, many components have to fall in place before we see them in abundance on our roads. In the interim, connected vehicles may take us where we need to go till the cows … er … cars come home.
The author is chief technology officer, Tata Motors. Views are personal