‘Bosch is working on in-vehicle infotainment with smartphone connectivity solutions.'
Navin Paul, Executive Vice-President, Sales – Automotive Technology, Bosch India, talks about the company's new product strategy in the Indian market.
Navin Paul, Executive Vice-President, Sales – Automotive Technology, Bosch India, talks to Shobha Mathur about the company's new product strategy in the Indian market.
How do you see technology trends moving globally and driving growth in technology products?
We are always tracking major trends in the marketplace and trying to see which way the customer is moving. The need for technology products comes from these trends.
Five or 10 years ago, people were seeking more comfort, power windows, air-conditioning and stereo systems; these formed their basic needs. These features are now standard in most cars. In the past five years, we have also seen a big movement towards smartphones with people virtually hooked onto them. While they are spending a lot of time in their cars due to traffic jams, they are keen that their smartphones have some linkage with their car.
The car is also becoming a part of the Internet and connectivity is becoming a very important consideration. People are also looking at more value-adds. Earlier navigation was not a specific requirement and navigation maps were not available in India unlike now. There is a small navigation device which has connectivity to a smartphone,which means a multipurpose solution is available and Bosch is working on such a solution. We are working on smartphones that can offer connectivity in entry level cars.
There’s also the sudden consumer shift towards safety features. Five years ago, if one had to pay Rs 5,000-Rs 10,000 for ABS and airbags,their fitment would be avoided. In 2013, ABS fitment in India was 13 percent; now it is 50 percent. This is enabling OEMs to offer safety features more and more for the lower end model variants. Safety is becoming an important mind-set in India. Earlier, fuel efficiency and comfort features with safety were not among the top five factors for car ownership but now they rank at number four in our service.
We are looking at ways to cars safer for occupants and not restricting it to passenger cars alone. Safety is as much needed in two-wheelers. Bosch is developing ABS for motorcycles and havelaunched it with a number of Indian OEMs and we see this becoming a legislation by the government.
In terms of legislation for 125cc and above two-wheelers, ABS will have to be mandated. Below 125cc,a two-wheeler needs a CBS or a combined braking system. Whether you press the rear or front brake, it will impact both brakes ensuring more stability. ABS will ensure that in case of emergency braking,the wheels do not lock and the vehicle does not skid.
Bosch has also been working on airbags, ABS and electronic stability program where you get other benefits like hill-hold that helps when ascending a slope.
Is Bosch developing all these safety features for entry level cars as well?
Yes we are manufacturing them over here, developing and applicating them in India now and the reason why their share has gone up is because safety features are now being provided on entry level cars.
Would Bosch be looking at developing these safety features for small compact cars like the Datsun Redigo or the Renault Kwid?
It is the OEM’s decision. We can offer them all of it but the final call is theirs. For some high- end vehicles, they want 100 percent.
What about safety for motorcycles?
For preventing a rider from falling down from the bike, we have motorcycle stability control (MSC) where there is a back angle sensor which senses that you are about to fall. ABS and bike stability control are more relevant as they control traction and bring the vehicle to a safe stop.
Which are the future safety technologies which Bosch is working on?
The next technology would be the driver assistance system supported by radars, ultrasonic sensors and cameras that help you in Park Assist and many other value-added functions.
The government is also freeing up radio frequencies. In fact, the 78 MHz frequency has already been freed up and that will help in having a predictive emergency braking system. For instance, all of a sudden a pedestrian crosses the road; before you brake, the sensor will automatically sense that movement and brakes will be applied automatically. The same would be the case as in the case of driver drowsiness – the sensor immediately issues a warning. These are the next-generation safety devices.
How is the work progressing in these areas?
We are already supplying them in developed parts of the world; for instance,Park Assist enables parking in a limited space through the smartphone that guides the car. It is already in commercial production. We already have some OEMs who are exporting cars fitted with such equipment; they will also introduce these products in India. Currently, we import and applicate these in India. Till now the frequency was not available in India but now that the government has opened it up work can progress more speedily on it.
How soon do we see local development on radars and sensors by Bosch?
Local development is all dependent on the business case when you have enough volumes to justify its development. Basically Bosch’s approach is local to local. First import and then have a localisation plan for sub-assemblies. Export is just 10 percent of total vehicle production, so once OEMs introduce them in the Indian market, demand will grow.
Is Bosch working on car- to-car connectivity in India?
Bosch is working on car-to-car connectivity globally but unfortunately in India this connectivity does not have much of a traction compared to the developed world where it is a norm. There we also have the Bosch cloud which enables car-to-car communication but in India it is not present.
Connectivity of a car to the garage or fleet management enables the driver’s performance to be measured.
We see commercial application for this solution as it can be linked to the connectivity control units (CCU) where we do data mining and in bus fleets. A box, which is installed in the bus, suggests when the clutch will fail as well as a maintenance schedule, driver habits and how he is running the bus. Truck pilferage is another area where the CCU gathers and analyses data and then offers suggestions on how to improve productivity and driver performance. This is also being supplied by us for some commercial applications.
Any other new technologies you see coming to India?
We see a shift from manual to automated manual transmissions (AMT) and have come up with the e-clutch that is an in-between the mechanical gearbox and AMT in terms of cost although the comfort level is the same. It is still in the demonstration stage and Bosch hopes to introduce it with OEMs as a next step and it will be more affordable than the AMT.
Currently, on an average, of 100 new cars sold, 10 of them are fitted with AMT but we want to expand it to 30. In an e-clutch, the clutch will be there but in stop-and-go situationsit can operate like an automatic as one does not have to change gears. Neither is there any extra fuel consumption. It is a new trend and we are hopeful of launching it in the next 2 years. Trials have to be conducted with development time ranging between 18-24 months.
The space is quite big as currently 90 percent gears are mechanical; we are visualising 30 percent AMT and 30 percent e-clutch with mechanical being 40 percent of the total. We also make CVTs but that is more expensive. We are also developing electronic fuel injection systems for bikes that will improve fuel efficiency by 15 percent. We have introduced it with some OEMs and it will become a legal requirement once legislation is introduced. So you will see a lot of new technologies and we are working on all these areas that will be more visible in a few years.
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