‘Consumers are prioritising safety’: Rajendra Petkar

In India, we have an active regulatory regime as far as safety is concerned, says Petkar.

By Amit Vijay M and Radhika Dave calendar 17 May 2023 Views icon3188 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
‘Consumers are prioritising safety’: Rajendra Petkar

As consumers are prepared to spend more money on safety, it is becoming a higher priority for them, according to Rajendra Petkar, Chief Technology Officer of Tata Motors, who says that “this emphasis and recognition comes to consumers purely due to the fact that safe mobility continues to challenge us”.

Talking at the Autocar Professional Road Safety Conclave: Surviving Indian Roads, consumers today place a higher priority on safety than other factors like vehicle speed, fuel efficiency, or some other abilities, he said, adding that there was a limit to what could be done in production, so they made sure that structural things were in place. “Safety is part of the car's design DNA, he said, at the panel discussion moderated by Hormazd Sorabjee, Editor of Autocar India. Our engineers consider every safety-related factor. In terms of structural rigidity for the vehicle construction, "we make sure that all the fundamental ingredients are in place."

Tata Motors has three to four core safety areas

Petkar has identified three to four places, the first of which, is designing the engine house area, since it includes crumple zones beneath where the engine resides. The drivers, passengers, and fellow passengers are all seated in the passenger case-like construction. Then there is the steering system and the upping of the dial path, both of which are crucial when it comes to post-accident injuries to the chest, leg, or foot.

He stated that Tata Motors "aims to benchmark against the best globally." Adding that "a tired commercial vehicle driver is equally dangerous," he said that it is essential that safe drivers operate vehicles on safe roads.

Importance of Design for Safety 

According to Petkar, the design language is largely responsible for the huge accomplishment of safety norms. While safety is the most crucial component of a car's DNA, Petkar cautioned that there is a limit to how much can be done. He added that, in addition to safety, considering the vehicle's fuel economy is crucial.

In India, we have an active regulatory regime as far as safety is concerned, adding that there has been a strong push in the last four to five years across all categories of vehicles, especially for four-wheelers. What is coming in pipeline is 6 airbags, Bharat  ENCAP, and a slew of regulations for battery safety concerns.

According to Tata Motors’ CTO, battery protection is a crucial component for engineers developing electric vehicles and should be considered while enhancing safety. “Our command centre examines and evaluates a lot of the data that EVs produce due to capturing driver behaviour because it enables us to understand the safety issues better and create future solutions that will enhance customer safety”, he added.

Tata Motors’ Nexon received the first five-star safety certification from Global NCAP. The Tiago and Tigor have received favourable safety ratings.

When asked how Tata Motors aims to push new features for active safety, he responded that the most recent information indicates that the GNCAP protocol is also evolving.

"The GNCAP safety procedure is moving more and more in the direction of active safety", he added, saying that safety is an evolving process. Based on accident data and user data that we can comprehend, active safety elements are needed, he stated. 

 

Role of OEMS for driving safety for commercial vehicles 

The CTO of Tata Motors stated that when it comes to commercial vehicle safety, the country does not need to look to vendors who can offer it; rather, safety must be tailored to Indian use cases because road dynamics and pedestrian behaviour in India are very different from what component makers can deliver based on European or American use case scenarios.

Tata Motors, which currently holds close to 40% of the commercial vehicle market share, has been experiencing strong growth in this segment because the construction, FMCG, and other white goods industries make sure that their vehicles are running for 12 to 14 hours at a time and that a crash could result in significant losses for the manufacturing and sales ecosystem.

"In addition to vehicle technologies, the driver is very important in heavy commercial vehicles, and is frequently overlooked because they must perform duties that last for more than 12 to 14 hours; there are not enough places where they can rest." Tata Motors has taken the lead and made significant efforts to work with various state governments to establish driving training institutes that help truck drivers drive more responsibly.

Regulatory Standards' Influence on Safety

"India has a very active regulatory safety regime, and we welcome that across all vehicle categories, passenger cars as well as four-wheelers and commercial vehicles," Petkar said.

In a statement about commercial vehicle safety, he claimed that the most recent Prima, Signa, and Ultra trucks have the Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), which includes a collision mitigation system, lane departure warning system, and driver monitoring system. Lane departure warnings, electronic stability control, and driver alerts have all improved safety.

In response to a question regarding his opinions on road safety, he remarked that while various OEMs have added various safety layers to their service offerings, it will take some time for the same to get reflected in the accident data, which hasn't changed so far.

"We are collaborating with the government, and the government is aware of the pressure OEMs have been subjected to as a result of the battery safety regulations, which have been difficult for everyone." However, now that that has passed, the path forward must be planned in such a way that OEMs are given adequate time and regulatory schedules are effectively managed in order to protect the lifespans of existing vehicles.

Consumers and the automotive industry are still concerned about the cost of improving vehicle safety, but according to Petkar, all it takes to persuade a consumer is the dissemination of relevant information. "If we price a product so that it does not come at a high additional cost, consumers are willing to pay if they are convinced." Furthermore, we must consider long-term costs when developing safety programs and striking the right balance," he concluded.

 

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