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Saturday , 30 September 2023

Connected Vehicles The Next Big Thing for Digital India…

Mercedes Benz has developed an interface and the communication box in the car. They have also developed many services under their digital service brand Mercedes me. With ‘Mercedes me’, Mercedes Benz have installed an ecosystem for their customer to have all relevant services under one brand. Therefore, the customer can check the status of his car or start auxiliary heating or send a destination to his car or organize a service appointment at the workshop via the Mercedes me App or any other internet access.

The automaker already has the interface for internet access in the car. Through its own backend, Mercedes Benz has created an interface that allows to send third party services to the vehicle. For example., traffic information, petrol station prices, weather information etc.

According to Walthart, “We see the same demand of connectivity in India like in Europe, China or US. Therefore, we plan to introduce ‘Mercedes me’ also in India in 2019/20.”

Speaking on the general relationship between telematics companies and OEMs evolving in the coming years. Walthart said, “The relationship between telematics companies and OEM is already very strong. As you see in our service portfolio we send data to telematics companies and we receive data from them. So, there is a strong relationship so serve good services to our customers with a big value.

“For each market, we have to find collaborations with local partners and also each market has some specific demands. For example, in India we will offer the service “remote engine start” so the customer can start the engine the ‘Mercedes me’ app to start the climate control before entering the car. This demand is not requested in Europe.

Korean car manufacturer Kia has also unveiled plans to introduce an entire range of connected car models by 2030. By 2025, Kia will adopt connected car technologies across every vehicle segment, and by 2030 the aim is to make every single model a connected car.

“Kia’s connected cars will be both boundless and connected and offer a new kind of mobility experience. Virtual reality, self-driving cars, and ‘vehicle-to-everything’ connectivity were all once considered technologies of the distant future. As they rapidly become a reality, Kia is exploring how to deploy these new technologies for its customers. Our strategy and vision for future mobility is demonstrated by a range of interactive displays, showing what our customers can look forward to,” said Woong-chul Yang, Vice Chairman and Head of Kia R&D Center.

Road Ahead

No change comes without its set of hurdles. Connected Cars have their roadblocks to cross that may be more in case of India, which is a developing country. The foremost concern is the lack of infrastructure. To implement OEM in connected cars, there is a requirement of basic infrastructure. The Indian market is quite complex with frequent reforms amendment. This in turn affects the pricing of vehicles and thus, the buying patterns. To run a connected car, Internet is as important as fuel. The basic requirement of Internet for a connected car is 4G network, also known as LTE. However, in India most of the places have 2G network, especially the highways and rural areas. This slow connectivity can pose a major hindrance for smooth functioning of connected cars. India as of now lacks infrastructure that is required for connected cars. A serious lack of proper road markings and proper sensor networks positioning is a primary hurdle in the implementation of technologies like V2X. According to 2015-2016 World Economic Forum report, India stands at the 61st position in terms of global road quality. Lastly, with sensitive data at stake, there is an urgent need of defined law enforcement that is policies and regulations, before these next gen cars roll out on the streets.

Indeed, the hurdles make connected cars a farfetched dream for the Indian market as of now. The market is not yet luxury driven and there is a considerable demand for “value for money”. Also, the connectivity offerings in India are mostly app based, it is the need of the hour to focus on more pressing issues such as safety and security in auto space. This in turn demands for a physical and technical infrastructure up gradation. The industry players justify this lack of progress to no real demand and not finding enough reasons to make heavy investments. The telematics market is an unexplored arena in India. The focus is now shifting from cheap imported hardware to quality of user experience. This market has a massive potential which when unlocked will benefit all who are a part of the connected car ecosystem.

The Government has a key role in evolution of Connected Vehicle Technology. Advanced connectivity features to enable vehicle to infrastructure communication or Vehicle to traffic system communication or autonomous driving will reach its true potential with the advent of 5G.

Preeti Swaminathan

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