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Automotive Product Finder Magazine | Local R&D is an important factor to influence cost
Local R&D is an important factor to influence cost
The government has been forthcoming with its policies
Growth of automobile industry expected to generate huge demand
Technologies are definitely going to turn the industry upside down and take it for a ride. It is not just one technology or trend but the coming together of several technologies that is shaping the industry. The future of automotive is led by disruptive trends – electrification, connectivity, autonomous driving and shared mobility. The automotive industry is preparing for the vehicle of future and enhancing the end user’s experience, points out Prashanth Doreswamy, Market Head Continental India & Managing Director Continental Automotive.
We know that BS VI is going to roll out in over a year’s time. Where does the industry’s preparation stand currently
Indeed transitioning to BS VI is a giant leap and a turning point for the automotive industry. While this is indeed a challenge in terms of implementation, it puts India on par with the emission standards of mature markets. As for preparedness, OEMs are on a fast track mode for BS VI projects, and seem to be well in time for the deadline. Technology companies like Continental, with experience and expertise in other markets was ready with the required technologies to support the legislation norms. We are working with all key OEMs in India on this.
How is the industry moulding itself in order to meet the different safety and emission norms such as CAFE and BNVSAP, among others?
For us, India is emerging as a focus market for airbags and ESC. The growth in the ABS market in India is of course driven primarily by government mandates. We expect that there will be legislations around ESC in the near term, and this is the next step to provide more safety and comfort to the driver. All new cars on sale are mandated to conform with the Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment Program (BNVSAP) crash safety norms as well. The new regulations also make dual airbags mandatory on all 4-wheelers. The proposed CAFE norms make it necessary for all the cars to be more fuel efficient, eventually aimed at reducing the carbon footprint.
However, when you speak of regulations, there are multiple perspectives to be considered and understood. On the one hand, road safety, clean air etc. are non-negotiable topics. If we can utilise the fast expanding possibilities of technology to develop new mobility solutions for increased road safety, more fuel-efficient drive systems, etc. then why not? It is everyone’s right. On the other hand, we need to also realise that this is a very capital intense industry. All regulations and technology upgrades call for investments from the side of OEMs. When these upgrades happen, automatically some cost is also passed down to the consumer. When we do that, we need to be cognizant of the fact that India is a highly price-sensitive market.
The industry is certainly working on all of these aspects. The value companies like Continental bring to the table is, our experience and expertise from mature markets, our ability to adapt technologies to suit each market and our commitment to localisation.
How is automation helping in the efficiency of vehicles?
Automation in fact brings in changes to several aspects of driving. Fundamentally, automation makes vehicles of tomorrow more attractive. It is no longer just a mode of transport that takes you from point A to B. It will be a partner on wheels. With the pervasiveness of digitisation, even our everyday living spaces will also allow for increasing integration of mobility. The acceleration of AI will further drive increased automation. As for Continental, our list of products is fast expanding as the automotive industry moves more towards automation and software.
To give an example, for vehicles of tomorrow – not even too far in the future – swelling traffic density will give drivers time for other activities in the car that are impossible today. Stop/start traffic and parking in tight parking spaces will no longer be daunting prospects. Advanced driver assistance systems already allow the owner to hand over vehicle guidance to the vehicle in certain situations. Drivers will never lose the dynamism, passion and enjoyment of driving – at the press of a button, they can turn the systems on or off as desired.
Continental's experts from various disciplines are working on several such technologies. As a technology company and a partner of choice of vehicle manufacturers world-wide we are excited to bring in innovations to support the trends.
Tell us about Continental’s role in making its products more sustainable and efficient.
Sustainability is a deeply rooted component of our company policy. It is applicable both in terms of technologies we develop and in terms of manufacturing sustainability.
Focus on reducing the energy consumption of vehicles by using innovative technologies, reducing weight of products so that less energy is required to power the vehicle, ongoing R&D into future mobility keeping in mind sustainability, are all part of our efforts. Sustainable management at all stages of the value chain and throughout the entire life cycles of our products has been an essential part of Continental’s philosophy. In our plants as well, Continental has employed various measures to achieve sustainability goals.
Have government policies and initiatives contributed to the automotive industry?
Certainly. I could use the same examples of ‘Safe’ and ‘Clean’ we discussed earlier. Continental strongly advocates Vision Zero, a world with zero fatalities, zero injuries and zero crashes. Due to increased awareness on safety and legislative norms in India, demand for safety technologies is at an all-time high, for both passenger cars and two-wheelers. Continental has several products to address these requirements and we are working with all major OEMs on these. The situation is the same with emission standards and the relevant technologies.
As for electric vehicles, legislative intent is in the right direction, although there is no clear road map. This would be essential to ensure before OEMs and suppliers make large-scale investments. There is still potential for growth in the number of combustion engines of cars and two-wheelers, and only by 2025 their numbers will begin to go down. Investment schemes like the recently announced FAME II will certainly drive adoption.
Tell us about some of the emerging technological trends that are going to disrupt the automotive industry.
The global economies and consumer behaviour are changing enormously, which is also giving opportunity for automotive trends to reconstruct itself fundamentally. The future of automotive is led by disruptive trends – electrification, connectivity, autonomous driving and shared mobility. The automotive industry is preparing for the vehicle of future and enhancing the end user’s experience. For example, IoT has led the path of mobility advancements, additionally, vehicle-to-everything technology is offering smart traffic solutions, parking management, and several other mobility solutions. AI is again boosting digitalisation and automation to levels we haven’t seen before. It is hard to point out one technology or one trend – it’s the combination of several factors and coming together of several technologies that is shaping the industry.
To wrap up, can you end by telling us the hurdles faced while attaining efficiency standards and the ways to best them?
The automotive industry is capital intense; so all of these regulations call for significant investments, both for OEMs and suppliers. Part of these costs get passed down to the consumer, but in a price sensitive market like India, how receptive is an average consumer to buy a vehicle at a higher price because it is more efficient? So for us in the industry, we need to understand that we will certainly have a cost implication in the initial stages. But once it becomes a norm, with economies of scale, prices will come down. Localisation is yet another factor that addresses cost requirements. Local R&D is also an important factor to influence cost, when adapting technologies for the local market.
CAFE And BNVSAP
Emerging Technological Trends
Zero Injuries And Zero Crashes
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