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Automotive Product Finder Magazine | Auto makers are making safety technologies cost effective
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With rising awareness, every consumer today is India wants safety features to be a standard fitment in the vehicle. While cost of the vehicle may go up due these new fitments initially, Prashanth Doreswamy, Country Head of Continental India and Managing Director, Continental Automotive India, believes prices to come down gradually as safety installations increase. Here he highlights the importance safety in the automotive industry and demand trend for safety systems.
Why is safety a prime concern for auto OEMs and policy makers? Is increased awareness among customers also forcing OEMs and their suppliers to focus on safety?
Safety has always been a prime focus at Continental, as we believe in ‘Vision Zero - A future with Zero Fatalities, Zero Injuries, Zero Crashes’. Our technologies have an underlying safety aspect be it braking solutions, ADAS solutions or even comfort- related technologies.
In India specifically, we have seen more awareness in the last few years as both policy makers grow aware of the importance of safety norms, and the consumer preferences and purchasing power improves. In the past, we’ve often kept safety features as an option in vehicles, which is added at an extra cost. Today, the average consumer is India wants the safety features to be a standard fitment in the vehicle. Mandatory policies also ensure that features like ABS in 2-wheelers and airbags in cars come packaged with the vehicles.
How Continental is helping OEMs in ensuring vehicle safety?
As mentioned earlier, we have a key focus for vehicle safety. We have a range of solutions that are available for OEMs across the globe. For India specifically, we have introduced some cost-effective solutions like one channel ABS, MiniMAB for entry level of 2-Wheelers. We also have a larger portfolio like Motorcycle Integral Brake Systems (MIB) and Motorcycle Anti-Lock Brake Systems (MAB - 2 Channel ABS). The two-channel ABS MK 100 MAB or three-channel MK 3-2 MAB has been available as a mid-range feature, while the MK 100 MIB has been available as an advanced feature. India is slating to make Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) mandatory in cars by 2022-23.
With increase in the integration of electric content the vehicles, the demand for Electric Parking Brake (EPB) will also see an uptake. Right now, EPB is a feature only in the premium range of cars. For EPB to be installed, vehicles should be equipped with electronic stability control (ESC), which at this point of time is not available in the Indian vehicles on a wide scale. OEMs have now realised the benefit of EPB not only from performance or feature point but also packaging point of view, since only the wires run from cabin instead of cables and lever.
The novel software function Occupant Safety Monitor (OcSM) is on the roadmap of Continental and in development. The function is a valuable extension of today’s passive safety technologies on the market and will be available around 2023 for the introduction into the safety systems of vehicles. The OcSM acts as a permanent monitor of the environment in the vehicle in terms of safety. The information of several suitable sensors (e.g. camera, data from a seat sensor system, etc.) results in a complex sensor fusion model. By means of this deployment strategies for the restraint systems are spontaneously being calculated - individually for each occupant. With the aid of the Occupant Safety Monitor software function, it can also be used to adapt passive safety systems such as seatbelts and airbags to the prevailing situation. The deployment of airbags, for example, can be tailored to the situation detected in the interior in order to optimise its protective effect. When it comes to automated driving, driver gets the freedom from focusing on the road and enjoys more relaxed seating position with other passengers, even in such cases the OcSM will be active to further guarantee optimum restraint safety.
Automated driving is the future version of individual mobility and makes traffic safer, more efficient as well as comfortable. Thereby it is not only a trend of today but rather a core element of mobility of tomorrow. By 2025, driverless cars may become a reality at least in the West. Even before that ADAS will lay the foundation. Automated driving is the motivation behind accelerating the ‘Vision Zero’. Even today, driver assistance systems help to prevent crashes – or at least to minimise their consequences. They reduce the burden on drivers and help them to operate the vehicle safely and efficiently. ADAS will find its place in India in the years to come. Better infrastructure, awareness and government policy will be the deciding factors for this.
Why is it important to give due consideration to safety while developing and designing new auto models?
The Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018, launched by WHO in December 2018, indicates that the number of annual road traffic deaths has reached 1.35 million. Road fatalities are now the leading killer of people aged 5 and 29 years. This is distributed unequally between pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, those living in developing countries. Looking at the number of fatalities, it is vital for us to consider vehicle safety in every aspect possible.
A basic tenet of ‘Vision Zero’ is that safety be a universal right. Although price sensitivity has always been a key factor in India, automotive companies are making safety technologies cost effective, so they are no longer only a feature in premium models.
Safety systems should not be viewed as premium features that come along with top end models. Equipping the vehicles in India with safety technologies will certainly have a cost implication in the initial stages. But if it becomes a norm rather than an exception, safety installations will increase and gradually this will bring prices down.
With much needed intervention from the Government and increasing demand from customers, there is a growth in the adoption of safety technologies, which will gradually bring costs down.
Localization is important in order to meet the specific technology and cost requirements of the Indian market. Continental is localising the entire value chain starting from marketing to R&D to design according to local customers’ requirements.
What kinds of opportunities are you looking to tap in India as vehicle safety norms are becoming more stringent in the country?
We have a range of solutions already available in safety and continue further R&D in this area. We have scalable product solutions that can be deployed in any market.
Continental began localising ABS and ESC system in 2016, with product assembly at its Gurgaon plant, where they have completed over 2 million units already. The production for Electronic Control Units (ECU) at its Bangalore plant was set up in January 2018. The same year, we added two new assembly lines for ABS and ESC at our Gurgaon plant. We recently achieved one-million milestone for producing ECUs for ABS and ESC at our Bangalore plant.
Continental is significantly increasing its capacity to produce speed sensors at its Manesar plant to meet the growing demand caused by recent safety and emission legislations in India. The speed sensor product portfolio of Continental includes wheel, engine and transmission speed sensors for passenger vehicles, while for 2-Wheelers it is wheel and engine speed sensors.
Our state-of-the-art production line for airbag control units began operation in 2016 at our Bangalore plant, long before legislation came into effect. Today, we are working at full capacity, supplying our local market and exporting to Japan and Thailand. Airbag business in India is growing steadily and being driven by legislation and end consumer. We added a second production line to enhance our capacity significantly, which will help us to meet the increasing requirements of more OEMs in India.
Our Technical Center India (TCI) is one of Continental’s three Corporate Systems and Technology (S&T) hubs worldwide. TCI provides high quality, cost effective, engineering solutions to safety products from business units Vehicle Dynamics, Passive Safety & Sensorics and ADAS. In 2018, the company invested in new facility for brake systems R&D at its Gurgaon plant.
With these developments, investments and milestones, Continental is in a very good position to ramp up its production or new technology development initiatives as and when new industry demand or trend surfaces.
Continental Automotive India
Electronic Stability Control
Electric Parking Brake
Occupant Safety Monitor
Seat Sensor System
ABS And ESC System
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