The year 2018 will be an exciting year for the auto industry as it focuses on three important pillars: sustainability, safety and modernisation, says Suresh KV.
The automotive industry is one of the key growth drivers of India’s economy, accounting for around 7 per cent of India’s GDP. According to a report by Indian Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), about 25 million automobiles were produced in India in FY17. The Indian automobile industry has seen interesting dynamics in recent times owing to policy initiatives by the government. The focus of policymakers and auto players is on safety and sustainability. Companies braced for new challenges as BS-III vehicles were banned and asked automakers to completely shift to BS-VI by 2020.
GST has proved to be beneficial for many Asian countries like Malaysia and Singapore. The implementation of GST in India, initially slowed down the growth, but I believe that in the long run GST will improve the volume sales as well as profit by reducing the costs of manufacturing and distribution. Auto component makers are expecting it to further improve their volumes as well as their profit by reducing the costs of manufacturing and distribution. Overall, it has created a single, unified and big market, bringing short and long-term gains which will simplify business plans and way forward.
The Government of India’s Automotive Mission Plan (AMP) 2016–2026 envisages the creation of an additional 50 million jobs along with an ambitious target of increasing the value of the output of the sector to up to Rs 18 trillion. The National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project (NATRiP) aims at creating core global competencies in automotive sector in India and facilitate seamless integration of Indian automotive industry with the world as also to position the country prominently on the global automotive map. For the realisation of such policies, sufficient funds should be allocated and such strategies should be executed smoothly for the desired outcome.
The role of the automotive sector in protecting the environment is quite significant and cannot be ignored. With the current emphasis on reducing discharges of greenhouse gases and reducing carbon footprint, it is important to promote sustainable mobility. Auto manufacturers have a major role in controlling the emissions and carbon footprint. With the changing climate and rising population, it becomes imperative that the mobility of people and goods should be planned appropriately to minimise congestion and other environmental impacts on the cities. Making mobility more sustainable translates into transport systems that are more accessible, efficient, safer, and climate responsive.
For creating sustainable mobility in India, electric vehicles are the way to go forward. The pollution caused by fossil fuel run vehicles is detrimental. Fossil fuel is non-renewable, exhaustible and EVs will help us combat global warming menace worldwide. Also the particulate matter from petrol and diesel cause environmental hazards. OEMs in India are increasingly investing in power plants and other renewables. Electricity generation and power supply shouldn’t be a problem because today there is a wide range of options available for electricity generation. Although, the share of electric cars in the overall market is still small, it is impossible to overlook the increasing importance of e-mobility as the driving power of the 21st century. In a price-conscious economy like India, the shift towards electric vehicles will be gradual. Though the underlying technology has a long way to go and many hurdles to cross, progress made so far in this direction is quite significant.
As far as the EV policy is concerned, all companies have geared up for developing eco-friendly vehicles. Sustainable mobility is the megatrend in the industry and it will continue to be so even if the drafting of EV policy has been scrapped. The government has already prepared an action plan for EV implementation which will be executed in due course of time.
The automotive industry is undergoing a disruptive transformation, driven by the need for environmental protection, increased connectivity and autonomous driving. At the same time, safety remains at the heart of occupants’ concerns. Inclusion of airbags, anti-lock braking system, and vehicle speed limiting devices are mandatory. Increasing use of technology to detect driving patterns, road conditions, weather conditions, temperature of engine, critical oil levels are helping prevent a lot of accidents on roads.
Many believe that future of auto industry belongs to autonomous vehicles. According to studies, the worldwide incomes from connected vehicles are growing rapidly, at an annual rate of 27.5 per cent and are expected to touch $ 21 billion by 2020. Remote sensing, camera sensors, and automatic emergency braking systems are already a part of many automobiles. Big data and analytics are redefining the phases of connected cars technology. With the IoT, manufacturers, and OEMs have started integrating their products with connected vehicles technology to head towards sustainable mobility.
Autonomous driving has made a progress in the market and the demand for it is increasing day by day. With the ongoing advancements in the technologies, today even cars have various levels of autonomy and this is making the thought of completely autonomous vehicle coming into reality, thanks to the dynamic change in technology. Electric propulsion is swiftly getting over traditional issues like range, charging time and costs, and it is only a matter of time before the tailpipe goes the way of the carburetor. Robotics is revolutionising production and ushering in a new era. The factories of the near future are evolving into ‘smart factories’, in which networked machines (robots) constantly talk to each other. Integrated measuring systems and sensors in the robots monitor assembly operations and the flow of materials. Cloud computing is used to host data in remote data centers and run software applications from centralised server farms.
Robotic applications are enabling manufacturers to respond to sudden changes in demand even more rapidly – and even manufacture micro-batches of tailor-made products cost-efficiently. It will help the automotive industry in optimising production operations. Robotic applications will also facilitate automatic exchange of real-time data, which will be beneficial to companies. There are a few tasks in automotive manufacturing which are hazardous. Robots and robotic applications can prevent such risks to people working in a production facility. In assembly lines, robots keep workers from exposure to fumes from welding, weld flash and the noise of stamping presses.
The amalgam of information technology and manufacturing gave birth to Industry 4.0 or Manufacturing 4.0. This was one of the biggest revolution for the auto industry. Industry 4.0 brought with it advanced technological solutions for manufacturing auto parts and components. Industry 4.0 has brought together robots, data and connected devices for creating a productive environment. It has streamlined operations and offered new business opportunities. The implementation of industry 4.0 in our country has helped Indian companies to be at par with global standards. Soon Industry 5.0 will also be coming, which will allow customers to customise what they want.
The year 2018 overall will be an exciting year for the auto industry. The focus will be on three important pillars: sustainability, safety and modernisation. With advanced technological solutions like additive manufacturing, advanced robotics, industrial Internet of things (IIOT) and augmented reality, the year ahead will see a lot of disruptive ideas in terms of technology and inventions in the auto industry. Companies have to gear up to be future ready and to sustain competition in the market.
Suresh KV is the Country Head of ZF India & Head of Business Park Pune. Before joining ZF, he has worked with various auto and manufacturing companies which includes Baja Auto, Visteon Automotive System and Motherson Sumi Systems Limited. His last stint, before joining ZF, was with Hansen Drives Ltd where he worked as General Manager, Operations Center (2007-2010).