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Auto Expo 2018: Collaboration is key to smart solutions in Indian auto industry

CEO and Managing director of Tata Motors Ltd, Guenter Buschek writes that the Indian auto industry may change more rapidly over the next 6-10 years than it has over the past decade.

AutoExpo2018 Updated: Feb 07, 2018 11:23 IST
Guenter Buschek
The future is about being smart, being connected, and being in sync.
The future is about being smart, being connected, and being in sync. (REUTERS)

Over the last century, the car, as much as any other product, has shaped not only the global economy but how billions of people live. And this is one industry that has witnessed constant change, subjected to the vagaries of the global economy. And even now, economies around the world are undergoing metamorphosis. The rise in emerging markets, the proliferation of innovative technologies, sustainability policies, and changing consumer preferences are impacting industries globally without exception. Industries have been impacted by digitization, enhanced automation, and new business models. Globally, the automobile industry is witnessing a rapid change in customer expectations. As the technology and automotive worlds merge, preferences are rapidly shifting away from traditional choices towards more advanced and feature-centric ones.

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The automotive industry is likely to change more rapidly over the next 6-10 years than it has over the past decade. The industry has been facing a discontinuity in the nature of mobility, and the products and services needed to satisfy the emerging customer preferences. We are witnessing a rapid change in the industry with a new emerging shared economy, faster changes and disruptions in mobility, and a higher shift towards services. With a shift in customer preferences, there is an increased number of new entrants into the market bringing in disruptive trends – electrification, autonomous driving and connectivity.

Most industry experts agree that these trends will reinforce the automotive industry, which is ripe for disruption. In the last five years, leveraging the internet of things (IoT), leading automobile companies have latched on to the concept of connected cars by partnering with global technology giants. As a result, the cars in developed markets currently have a variety of solutions for processing platforms to support applications aimed at creating a seamless driving experience. Soon drivetrains will shift towards hybrid-electric, electric, and fuel-cell technologies as they mature and become more affordable. The operation of automated cars will move from advanced driver assistance systems to fully autonomous driving as the technology matures. Innovations in “infotainment”, novel traffic services, and new business models and services will increase as cars get connected to each other, to the wider infrastructure, and to people. New entrants/start-ups and tech giants are well positioned to make advancements in novel areas. Autonomous cars and driverless movement are already gaining traction and 3D printing which brings speed, design flexibility and weight advantages will challenge conventional manufacturing. Artificial intelligence is becoming a reality and electric vehicles are here to stay. How will India’s automobile industry keep pace?

Over the years, global innovations in the Indian automotive industry brought in to meet customer aspirations have set a positive trend. The government of India’s Smart Cities Mission is a welcome step towards accelerating the pace of development in the right direction. Given the smart aspirations of India’s connected generation, the automobile industry will have to step up its game and play a leading role by providing smart mobility solutions that are critical for the seamless emergence of smart cities as envisaged by the Prime Minister. These smart solutions must not only create a better quality of life for Indians but also reduce their environmental footprint by dovetailing cutting-edge urban planning with smart infrastructure.

As automakers we can be one of the greatest contributors of mobility solutions to the Smart Cities Mission. Smart mobility not only applies to private vehicles but also public transport. Hence, end-to-end integrated mobility solutions across commercial and passenger vehicles are the need of the hour. Connected vehicles will bring the digital lives of customers into the cars they drive and give them access to a whole new world of experiences. To ensure sustainability, EVs will be an integral part of smart city transportation. Automakers can make the most of the impending EV wave in India, given that the government is planning to achieve 100% e-mobility by 2030. Expertise in EV manufacturing is an ideal way to make a difference in building smart cities. Towards this, Indian automakers will have to change the product and component mix, bringing EV components and vehicles to life, building the right talent pool and skill set, improving the performance of batteries and electric vehicles and building scale. This will allow the industry to drive the EV disruption in India.

After all, the future is about being smart, being connected, and being in sync. It is about personalization and integration. It is about driving sales and influencing profitability. It is about offering the very best to the most discerning. The future is here.

(Guenter Butschek is CEO and managing director of Tata Motors Ltd.)