Connected cars are set to transform the automotive industry with a new wave of innovations and modern technologies. How are Indian auto players preparing for this transition? Are the roads ready for connected cars? Roop Singh, executive director, Advanced Technology Consulting Services, shares his views with Paromik Chakraborty of Electronics For You.
Q. How are modern technologies realising the concept of connected cars?
A. Connected cars offer connectivity on-the-go, which is possible only with a hybrid model of multiple technologies. These cars are a combination of the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), cloud services, Web and mobile apps, and the Internet.
Companies are working to acclimatise cars with driver behaviour and make these smarter using ML. They are providing automotive learning via ML, too. Behaviour is then adopted as a default feature in the cars using AI.
Q. Are connected cars available only in the premium price range?
A. Any technology in its nascent stage is expensive. While connected cars may fall under the premium range currently, this is expected to change soon. With technological leaps, constant changes in prices are evident. In fact, auto tech giants are already developing solutions for the masses.
Q. When do you see connected cars becoming the dominating trend?
A. All major global economies have made significant breakthroughs in connected cars technology. Not just luxury, economical automakers too are focusing on these solutions.
Governments are bracing themselves for this evolution by issuing rules and requirements, such as emergency and breakdown buttons as a part of on-board diagnostic systems.
India is expected to take a leap in this area with constantly improving roads and network connectivity. In the next five years, we will witness major changes in the global connected cars industry and its acceptance.
Q. How will the consumers be impacted in terms of price?
A. Consumers look for quality products and services over price. High quality cannot be achieved unless the market-level infrastructure improves in terms of mobile network availability along with road connectivity of the country, proper database for all emergency phone numbers for roads, breakdown services and so on.
Q. How are automakers upgrading their equipment to support connected cars? What about the increases in capex and opex?
A. They are focusing on finding the right suppliers for telematics hardware, cloud solutions and data partners. They are ensuring that their platforms are scalable, secure, upgradable and sustainable.
Companies are ready to invest in telematics strategy looking at a long-term perspective. I foresee 15 to 20 per cent increase in capex and 10 to 15 per cent growth in opex.
Q. What are the prerequisites for cars and roads to drive this change?
A. Connected cars must be tested thoroughly on all types of roads. Road conditions need to be improved on priority and map databases must be updated constantly.
Q. Is India an active R&D bed for ADAS development?
A. Developed economies have made substantial progress in advanced driver-assistance system development. For instance, both the European Union and the US have mandated that all vehicles be equipped with autonomous emergency braking systems and forward collision warning systems by 2020.
India has its own set of challenges such as improvements in infrastructure, network availability in remote locations, common people’s willingness to follow traffic rules and more.
Q. What challenges do Indian service providers face?
A. Two main issues are clients unwilling to pay for long-term solutions and slow decision-making. Providers like us try to mitigate these challenges by coming up with prototypes that can showcase certain benefits to clients right away and lay the foundation for long-term opportunity.
Q. How is your company driving Make in India movement?
A. Although we have offices across the globe, our production is based out of India. We are developing teams here to work on future smart city projects. Most of our strategic investments for future expansion here are for building more capacity in terms of office space. We are looking at government projects and auto OEMs as prospects.