Autocar Professional's first edition of 2020 is a cracker

by Ajit Dalvi 01 Jan 2020

Brand management is a black art and staying ahead of the competition is a challenging affair. The automobile business is all about products and brands and automobile companies have once again, as they did in 2018 and 2017, stamped their dominance when it comes to global brand power.

We reveal the findings of the 2019 Interbrand Study that sees 15 vehicle manufacturers – 14 carmakers and 1 motorcycle manufacturer – confirm their presence in the best of the best global brands. All these 15 automakers, which boast $279 billion of combined brand value, are present in the Indian market. The financial services sector, with 12 brands, is second only to automotive. But in a world where disruptive technologies are the new constant, the future business landscape for automotive looks like a minefield. Brands can become obsolete and lose relevance quickly. Speedy innovation and strong customer connect are the key drivers to brand success. Find out how traditional auto brands can avoid the technology trap and still maintain their direct connection to the customer.

Tata Motors is set to make an electric move with the launch of its first EV under the new Ziptron technology. The Nexon EV will have a range of over 300km and is likely to be priced around Rs 200,000-250,000 more than the Tigor EV, making it India's first 'affordable' long-range EV. We have all the details on the eco-friendly SUV along with interviews with Anand Kulkarni, Vice-President (Product Line - EVs) and Pratap Bose, Vice-President (Global Design), Tata Motors.

There's another OEM which is plugging strongly into e-mobility. Piaggio Vehicles, the Pune-based two- and three-wheeler manufacturer, has recently launched its Ape E-City passenger-carrying electric three-wheeler. Importantly, this vehicle employs Sun Mobility's battery swapping tech, which helps the upfront cost of the green three-wheeler to be at par with its IC-engined counterpart.

Pune-based Sedemac, incubated out of an IIT-Bombay research lab, is all set to reveal EV-specific products at the upcoming Auto Expo.

With so much activity happening on the e-mobility front, it's not surprising that the subject is also the focus of industry seminars and conclaves. iTEC India, held in Bangalore, on the overall theme of 'E-Mobility Solutions for the Community' drew over 1,000 stakeholders, saw 150 technical paper presentations, panel discussion and display of cutting-edge products and technologies. Our first-hand report is an indicator of where the sector is headed in India.

Meanwhile, Hyundai Motor India is not given up on diesel. In fact, the carmaker, which is thinking big for its new compact Aura sedan, is betting on a new diesel engine. Find out just how. We also have an exclusive interview with SS Kim, MD and CEO, Hyundai Motor India, where he speaks about how the company fits into Hyundai Motor Corp's recently announced 'Strategy 2025' global growth plan, leveraging synergies with Kia in India, the sales, aftersales and export strategy and lots more.

Every drop of fuel matters, to the motorist and to oil marketing companies. Find out how India's leading OMCs are taking to machine learning, artificial intelligence and data science to automate their retail network and fuel transparency, while also stopping malpractices.

Cutting down on a malpractice has become Gurgaon-based Tier 1 clutch assembly and clutch plate supplier Rico Auto's avowed mission. The company is challenging the fake parts industry with its new holographic packaging in the aftermarket, even as it readies to diversify into parts for commercial vehicles.

We've got two solid interviews for this first fortnight of the new year. Georg Graf, President of the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce, and MD and CEO of Freudenberg India,  speaks about the collaborative roadmap between India and Germany.

Georg Graf and Chancellor Angela Merkel at a gathering of the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce in New Delhi on her visit to India in early November.

Krishan Kohli, who has recently taken over as Head of Continental Automotive Components India’s Gurgaon plant and the Hydraulic Brake Systems Business Unit, speaks on how the Tier 1 supplier is aggressively driving localisation in India. Continental, which already has an Electronic Stability Control for passenger vehicles at its Gurgaon plant, is now readying for ESC ahead of the 2022 mandate, even as it readies to increase its HBS business.

Our guest columnist is Aashish Bhatia, President, Visteon India who writes lucidly on the next-generation digital cockpit that's connected, conversational and safe.

Visteon's 4K digital cluster is designed to provide a large high-resolution solution that incorporates driver monitoring and ADAS virtualisation. 

Think disruption and the word start-up comes to mind. 2019 saw a number of dynamic start-ups come up with innovative products, technologies as well as ideas that saw venture capitalists invest in them. We profile 15 of them, including the developer of a fuel-dispensing bowser, chemical-agnostic EV battery tech, self-balancing scooter and a couple of performance electric motorcycle makers.

There's plenty more to read in this 64-page issue that opens a new year that promises to be an exciting one. 

Team Autocar Professional wishes all readers and the industry a very happy New Year 2020. Let's hope it turns out far better than the forgettable one that 2019 was.   

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