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Carbon-free trucks will be the next big thing

Daimler Truck recently announced the launch of its innovation and development center, Daimler Truck Innovation Centre India (DTICI), in Bangalore.

Daimler Truck recently announced the launch of its innovation and development centre, Daimler Truck Innovation Centre India (DTICI), in Bangalore. “The transportation industry is reinventing itself to create products focused on zero-emission and software lead innovation,” says Raghavendra Vaidya, MD & CEO, Daimler Truck Innovation Centre India. “DTICI will be building deep engineering and IT capabilities for all Daimler Truck and Bus brands across the globe,” he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in an interview. Excerpts:

What are your key priorities as the CEO of the organisation?

My priority is to place equal focus on strategic imperatives and a transformation of the commercial vehicle (CV) industry through local innovation that has a global impact. Another focus area would be to invest in people skills, as our employees are our biggest strength. We, DTICI, are a newly formed company with a strong legacy to build on and are seeking to reimagine solutions as the industry goes through a massive digital transformation.

What is the significance of this centre (DTICI) and how will it contribute to your global business?

The centre will serve as the backbone for all innovations and technology developments for Daimler Trucks and Buses globally, including Mercedes-Benz Trucks, Freightliner, Western Star, Thomas Built Buses, Fuso, Bharat Benz, and EvoBus GmbH. It’s a dedicated product engineering and IT centre that will focus on future innovations. It will provide us with a competitive advantage by developing innovative solutions to make our products better, especially in the zero-emission and software and electronics areas. DTICI values India as a source of talent and innovation. Our combined strength in product engineering, IT and the rich talent pool here will enable us to reimagine solutions that Daimler Truck has to offer to customers worldwide.

What disruptive trends do you foresee in the automotive industry in the coming years?

The transportation industry is reinventing itself to create differentiated products focused on zero-emission and software lead innovation. With continuing advances in areas like connectivity, battery/fuel cell powertrain, and autonomous driving, the software is proving to be a game-changer, becoming one of the strategic development areas for the automotive sector. The electronics architecture in vehicles is also going through a major evolution and, coupled with software, turning trucks into data centres on wheels.DTICI has the deep product engineering expertise and is playing a pivotal role in research and development for all types of powertrain technologies (combustion engines, battery-electric and hydrogen-based fuel-cell drives); it is also responsible for the development of vehicles software and electronics. We are the team that will define the trucks of tomorrow.

What does the future hold for the automotive industry?

Sustainability and digitisation will be the driving mantra for the industry. With rapid advances in the segment, carbon-free trucks and buses with autonomous driving technology will be the next big thing. The future CV will be electric and autonomous, powered by an array of connected services like predictive maintenance, driver monitoring, IoT-based track and trace solutions, over-the-air updates, etc. In the coming years, the powertrain for electric trucks will match the rate of electrification by battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in urban driving, relying on hybrid strategies to accelerate the transformation. We are providing deep engineering and IT capabilities to achieve zero-emission and industry-leading innovations in the areas of software and electronics. Technology is changing at a faster pace than ever.

What is DTICI doing to stay ahead of the curve? How are you enabling your people for the same?

With technology becoming pervasive in every component, the CV industry is going through a massive digital transformation. All key features from safety and efficiency to connectivity to automation to sustainability are underpinned by technology. With data availability, AI and analytics have proven a game-changer in garnering actionable insights, predictive maintenance and superior customer experience. Innovation is at the core of what we do and we are leading from the front in developing emission-free technology solutions, automated driving and connectivity solutions that are radically transforming the sector.

Organisations can’t succeed if their employees are not learning and their skills are not aligned to the ever-changing industry landscape. Our people are our biggest assets and we are committed to constantly upskilling them to not only make them future-ready but also frontrunners in their respective fields.

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