The future is connected

by Rajendra Petkar, President & CTO, Tata Motors 04 Mar 2021


The role of technology has gained tremendous significance in the 21st century and many industries, businesses and communities have experienced this digital disruption first-hand.

The year 2020 has been an example of how crucial technology has become in today’s ‘socially distant’ reality. The internet during this period has played a pivotal role in ensuring that the world stays connected despite being confined to their homes. As a causality, India witnessed a sharp surge in the number of monthly active users and touched 700 million in the year 2020, according to a report by Statista. This digital revolution of sorts is now shaping consumer preferences that yearn for more automated, seamless and personalised experiences on all fronts of life — an expectation that has trickled down to the automotive sector as well.  

‘Connecting’ the dots for smarter mobility
The demand for connected vehicles and seamless platforms continues to rise as customers aspire for enhanced ease and efficiency in their driving experience. A study conducted by Ovum states that India will have 1.7 million connected vehicles by 2022, from less than 0.3 million in 2016. Rallying on this emerging trend, OEMs globally have sought to craft intelligent mobility solutionsthat offer an integrated and customised experience. They have also forged collaborations to develop advanced tech solutions that can aid product differentiation. OEMs have developed and deployed connected technology to collect data, create insights, perform analytics, enhance decision-making, and above all, unlock a lucrative consumer experience. On the Passenger Vehicle (PV) front, the market is moving from‘need-based maintenance and servicing’ to ‘Predictive and Prognosis’ maintenance. With connected technology, customers can now interact with — and track the whereabouts of — their cars owing to features like intrusion alert and stolen vehicle tracking among others.
Transcending beyond cars, these features are now triggering widespread adoption across the Commercial Vehicle (CV) ecosystem. OEMs now offer Automotive Industry Standards (AIS 140) compliant connectivity solutions as a factory-fit package along with fleet management solutions, which provides owners with the vital insights on vehicle diagnostics. This development ensures that besides better vehicle uptime, vehicles will now also offer a safe and comfortable driving experience. 

Data collation and security will fuel growth and customer loyalty
The automobile revolution propelled by connectivity will report large volume of data to the OEM and will open a plethora of opportunities for organisations to improve product functionality and productivity. OEMs will use this dataset for better life-cycle management, reducing maintenance cost and to push for better warranty terms which will be beneficial for the user in long-term. Additionally, the insights gathered will be applied for better R&D, innovation and development of the next-generation of mobility offerings that will be sensible, smarter, and instinctive. 
Staying true to its pioneering legacy, Tata Motors identified this emerging trend and began working on it, back in 2018. Soon after, the company began to develop a Connected Vehicle Platform (CVP) with a structured and layered approach. In an industry first, it has been developed as a common platform across commercial, passenger and electric vehicles (CVs, PVs and EVs). This enables Tata Motors to build meaningful insights into different business aspects. The company has a roadmap to integrate the CVP into every new vehicle. Combined with its reach across segments, this will give Tata Motors the advantage of getting the largest data set in the auto market.Tapping into that data is going to drive the next generation of revenue streams like data monetisation, downstream value-added services, vehicle personalisation services, shared mobility — a win-win for the customer and the company.

Revving towards a ‘connected’ era of mobility
As we head towards a connected India, one can anticipate travel to be more efficient, roads to have minimum traffic and fewer mishaps, shipments to be executed with ease and efficiency, and vehicles to provide customers with a superior driving experience at minimum operational costs. This vision of an idealistic and lucrative future in the automotive sector promises to benefit millions across the country improving businesses and seeing healthy growth in the economy. 

This column was first published in Autocar Professional's March 1, 2021 issue.