Two-wheeler safety in India is set to get another shot in the arm. German technology company, which was instrumental in introducing ABS (anti-lock braking system), many years ago in before even before it was mandated for 125cc and above two-wheelers, is now working on developing ABS for mass-market two-wheelers, which it expects to launch in the next couple of years. This is also when the government mandate for ABS on 100cc two-wheelers is expected.
The development seems significant considering that nearly 37 percent of road crash fatalities in India involve two-wheelers. India’s two-wheeler industry including major players such as Hero MotoCorp, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India, TVS Motor and Bajaj Auto together sold nearly 11.8 million two-wheelers – 11,798,525 units – in FY2021 with nearly 54 percent sales coming from the 100cc segment.
From April 1, 2019, the Indian government mandated ABS for two-wheelers with an engine displacement of 125cc and above. Models with engine displacement of 125cc or below need to have compulsory fitment of combi-braking system (CBS).
Speaking at Autocar Professional’s special session on 'Emerging Safety Trends & Challenges', on Day 4 of the Two-Wheeler Week, Krishan Kohli, Head India Market — BU HBS & VED and MD, Continental Automotive Brake Systems India, said: "India has definitely come a long way in the past two years on two-wheeler safety with a clear focus from the government of India. There are multiple safety - active and passive - norms now. ABS for 125cc and above two-wheelers really helps riders to handle panic situations. As per 2020 data, almost 37% of road crash fatalities in India are from two-wheelers in India. We are keen to see ABS market expand to the 100cc two-wheeler mass market."
He said the company is working very closely with some OEMs and partners such as NCAP and even the government as regards regulatory requirements. “We should have ABS for 100cc products ready within 2 years," said Kohli.
Continental currently has single-channel MiniMAB and dual-channel ABS products, both of which have different applications and involve different hardware variations. ABS is a life-saver for two-wheeler riders as it allows the vehicle’s wheels to maintain dynamic contact with the road surface, in proportion to the brake force applied by the driver. Consequently, the system prevents the locking of wheels during braking and avoids uncontrolled skidding.
In 2018, a study by Allied Market Research valued the global ABS market size at $37.69 billion; it is projected to reach $80.65 billion by 2026, registering a CAGR of 9.6% from 2019 to 2026. Apart from Continental, Bosch, ZF and Wabco are other major players dominating the ABS markets.
India needs ABS-solutely affordable tech
However, Indian consumers being price sensitive, especially at the bottom of the pyramid, will the large parc of 100cc two-wheeler consumers accept the price hike which will surely come about as a result of the tech upgrade, albeit an essential one?
Kohli explained that the cost delta should always add value to the consumer's end experience. Hence, while OEMs and suppliers like Continental are working towards such a product introduction, increase in localisation remains vital to introduce ABS for commuter bikes and scooters.
"For players like us, who are partnering both OEMs and NCAP to drive the safety vision, we want zero fatalities. We are working on new safety solutions. Beyond ABS, we have ride modes, optimized curve braking, emergency brake assist, ARAS functions," he added. He expects all the major OEMs including Bajaj Auto, Hero MotoCorp, HMSi and TVS to include these safety solutions in their higher powered two-wheelers before they percolate down to mass market vehicles.
Continental's 4,000-strong R&D team is helping the drive towards developing cutting-edge technology to meet Indian as well as global demands. Further, Continental’s top leadership claims to be driving more content for two-wheelers in India, particularly in software and electronics categories.
According to Kohli, though India has come a long way since the past two years with regard to two-wheeler safety issues, thanks to the strong governmental push. ABS in 125cc and above two-wheelers is one example. “Every new segment is evolving into a new opportunity and we are already ready for electric vehicles, both two- and four-wheelers, across divisions like sensors, HMI and powertrain, to meet EV technology demands the world over," added Kohli. "For players like us, who are partnering both OEMs and NCAP to drive the safety vision, we want zero fatalities," he continued before signing off.