The Indian market is the 4th largest automotive hub and the second-largest market for two-wheelers in the world. The demand for two-wheelers has been spiking consistently with ease of access. With this, it has become a necessity for automotive companies to analyse the safety of two-wheeler riders and provide them with the best and the latest technologies and trends.
According to the latest annual report released by the National Crime Records Bureau, India recorded 3,74,397 accidental deaths in 2020 with road crashes constituting over 35 percent of such fatalities. Out of 3,54,796 cases of road accidents that took place in 2020, over 1,33,201 people died and 3,35,201 were injured. 43.6 percent of victims of road accidents were riders of two-wheelers which was followed by cars, trucks, or lorries, and buses accounting for 13.2 percent, 12.8 percent, and 3.1 percent of deaths due to road accidents, respectively.
An increase in the penetration of two-wheelers in Indian households over the years is proof that it is prime to India’s mobility and is one of the most preferred modes of transportation. In comparison to three- or four-wheeled vehicles, two-wheelers can be manoeuvred through congested roads, they emit less carbon dioxide, have higher fuel efficiency, and are a more cost-effective mode of transportation. Furthermore, rising urbanisation, improved road infrastructure, and an increase in the number of female users are all driving demand for two-wheelers in India. According to the latest data provided by SIAM, a total of 13,466,412 2-Wheelers were sold in India in the year 2021-2022.
As India is an upcoming automotive hub, it has become an important market for many automotive and manufacturing organisations. Manufacturers from all over the world are investing in the country through manufacturing plants and producing technology that is more suited to the Indian market. The country is a value-driven and cost-sensitive market; therefore, through local R&D, the industry can produce globally proven technologies in India at a more scaled-down level that are well suited for the Indian roads.
Keeping in mind the diverse Indian terrains, the government also made the use of the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) mandatory in two-wheelers, and above 125cc vehicles in India in 2019. This is an important step toward improving vehicular safety. ABS is an advanced braking mechanism that prevents the wheels from locking up and prevents the vehicle from skidding under hard or panic braking, avoiding accidents. It is also useful in slippery road conditions, gives the driver/rider more control in the event of sudden braking, improves vehicle steerability while braking, and reduces stopping distance. This was an important step taken by the government to achieve their aim of reducing road fatalities by 50 percent by 2025 while bringing the figure down to zero by 2030.
Another emerging trend that is going to impact the decision-making of Indian customers is connectivity. Almost all vehicles now have connected devices. Automobile connectivity can be used for a variety of purposes, ranging from safety to comfort.
Human-machine interface improvements, technologies that improve passenger and vehicle safety, increased performance, efficiency, and emission compliance are now standard features. Holistic connectivity addresses all aspects of a connected vehicle, such as the vehicle’s electronics architecture, connectivity to the environment, and the operation of mobility services. It enables embedded systems both inside the vehicle, such as high-performance computing, gateways, or sensors and outside the vehicle, such as edge computing and cloud computing.
Connected vehicles have the potential to change how we interact with our vehicles as well as how they communicate with the rest of the world. Vehicles must be connected to perform complex tasks and provide on-demand information that improves the overall driving experience. Smartphone integration has quickly become one of the most desired features among today’s consumers. Vehicle software will become more common as connected technologies in vehicles become more common.
This current wave of digital connectivity is rapidly progressing into two-wheeler markets too. The country’s two-wheeler industry is rapidly evolving; the connectivity feature is one that has been attracting recent prospective buyers. A rise in demand for features like navigation, entertainment (music), and an immersive riding experience can be seen. There has been a revolution of sorts in recent times as these features were earlier exclusive to four–wheelers. Riding is not just two wheels and an engine; connectivity has become an important factor. With two-wheeler manufacturers introducing their next generation of intelligent motorcycles and scooters with integrated telematics and smart-assistance capabilities, digital applications and features are expected to become widely available around the world soon. It will eventually evolve the two-wheeler driving experience, making it safer and elevating it to new heights.
Considering the sheer volume of the two-wheeler market in India, it is important for automotive manufacturers to set up their R&D centres here. Comprehensive technologies and connectivity are taking over the market, which is witnessing a rapid rise and showing no signs of slowing up anytime soon.
The author is Head of Sales and Key Account Management, Continental India.
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