Customised connected tech the big differentiator for auto industry

by Sricharan R 29 Jun 2021


With the global megatrend of ACES (Automated, Connected, Electric, Shared) seeing rapid acceptance in the automotive industry, connected vehicle technology has become part of our day-to- day life. Cars today are quite literally ‘computers on wheels’.

The technology is evolving and passenger car manufacturers are also seeing a gradual transition into technology innovation centres, given the demand for more connected features in cars. 

In an effort to address this trend, Autocar Professional organised a mega ‘Connected Mobility Conclave’ virtual conference on June 29.

Delivering the keynote address at the conclave, Rajendra Petkar, President and CTO, Tata Motors said, “Vehicles are now more sophisticated with sensors and modules. The systems provide a valuable asset – data – almost instantaneously. Connectivity was once restricted inside vehicles. ACES has connectivity embedded in it."

Paradigm shift towards connected vehicles
Tata Motors' CTO pointed out statistics from a recent study claiming that India will have 1.7 million connected vehicles by 2022. This increase is mainly due to the increase in demand from the consumers. He said that Tata Motors identified this trend very early on, and developed vehicle platforms to serve its commercial vehicle, passenger vehicle and electric vehicle operations. The company now offers more than 100 features in its connected solutions portfolio. 

“For passenger cars we have IRA, for EVs it's Zipconnect, and for CVs we have FleetEdge. The Tata Motors’ connected vehicle platform goes beyond just features. It compiles data across the lifespan of the vehicle and generates data to deliver insights to relevant multiple stakeholders in the value chain. With the number of vehicles on the road, we clearly see that connected vehicles are going to be a big product differentiator,” Petkar added.

With these solutions, it has become a win-win solution for both consumers and OEMs. The vehicle data helps them to understand the customers better and also helps OEMs in R&D and product development for future products. “What we need to understand and appreciate is that OEMs and suppliers will continue to embrace features and updates to provide tailor-made solutions for customers,” he said.

The way ahead
In phase one of connectivity there has been a huge development. Citing an example of a use-case scenario, Petkar stated that with the use of connected solutions, the Tata Nexon EV 'tells' where the nearest charging stations are. Going forward, there will be an explosive increase in the number of features offered in terms of vehicle connectivity, said Petkar.

The introduction of 5G connectivity will bring speed, data analytics which will lead to development and next generation of V2X, infotainment and telematics. This can be a game-changer, according to the CTO. “There will be a lot of development happening as we migrate to Phase 2 and Phase 3 of connected vehicle technologies. With this travel will be better, safer, last mile delivery will be with ease at minimal operational cost.” 

In the commercial vehicle platform, he said thatdevelopment in connected solutions will be difficult without the right partnerships of suppliers. “The whole connected vehicle platform needs the entire ecosystem to stay connected. We have seen strong penetration of connected vehicles since the introduction of BS VI. We had introduced connected solutions in our commercial vehicles 4-5 years ago. Also, we see strong penetration of connected tech across board,” he remarked.

Betting on localisation and building scale
In fact, Petkar believes that, "Connected vehicle technology has become a part of life of our day-to-day life. It is not just a luxury . . . it is a hygiene factor."

However, he added that localisation is crucial to bring about cost rationalisation and build scale, “OEMs like Tata Motors are focussing on developing India-specific solutions, at affordable price points.”