Vehicle Telematics

Telematics enabling smart mobility for India–opportunities & challenges

Published: June 2, 2016

Saurav Bhattacharyya
CEO and Co-Founder
Quantum Inventions

Saurav Bhattacharyya

Specializing in innovation for connected automotive navigation, Saurav has been awarded amongst others, the National Merit Award by the Singapore Standards Council (2009) and the Young Professional of the Year title (2013) for his contributions to the development of intelligent transport systems.

Surging economic growth and a rising middle class are driving consumption and domestic demand for vehicle ownership in India. The economic progress combined with the smart cities mission is establishing India as a new market for connected navigation and telematics services. Smart Mobility is a key characteristic that will play a pivotal role in realizing the country’s ‘Smart Cities Mission’. Unlike its early days, the telematics system today is not limited to just tracking a path on the map. Connectivity and telematics not only have the potential to safeguard your fleet, but can also improve the overall transportation infrastructure.

Government departments, environmental activists, insurance providers, end-consumers—all sides are demanding better driving experience, greater fuel e?ciency, less time spent in tra?c jams and an overall improved city infrastructure. Some of the key factors that are advancing telematics technology as a response to these challenges are:

Increasing consumer awareness – The buying behaviour of the techno-savvy consumers is reflecting their changing expectations from products. This makes it essential for automotive corporations to cater to the shifting needs and provide innovative technologies in their vehicles. The latest trend reports and surveys indicate that the Indian consumers base their vehicle purchase decision on the in-vehicle technology options. Rising awareness amongst buyers over the necessity and importance of connected services will drive the market demand for telematics in the coming years.

Rising role of Internet of Things –Smartphone and tablet ownership has grown considerably and the consumers are connected like never before, demanding cutting-edge products and services. This increased interest in both smart devices as well as connectivity features is steering the Indian market towards intelligent mobility solutions. Consumers want vehicles that are safer, entertaining, more e?cient and better equipped to cope with congested urban driving environments.

Growing demand for automotive safety – Another major factor driving the telematics market is the need to employ safety processes to reduce the growing number of road incidents. Government participation, mandating policies and measures for road safety is also crucial in the adoption of telematics systems into vehicles. Advancements in connectivity features have led to developments in the automotive sector, with driver assistance features, connected in-car infotainment, road-side assistance and GPS navigation. The current telematics environment is not only capable of reporting data on driving behaviour but also can track vehicle performance, sending information pertaining to maintenance issues, vehicle location and crash reports.

Smart Mobility as an enabler for a smart city – There is a growing focus on creating smart cities with e?ective and organized public transportation system. Telematics systems provide a solution to problems such as managing traffic congestion by allowing the authorities to manage traffic in real time, locate vehicle positions, handle emergency situations and breakdowns as well as o?er alternatives for congested routes.

As India prepares to become the third largest economy of the world by 2050, it needs to fight the challenges that stand in the way. Some of the biggest impediments are:

Overburdened suboptimal transport infrastructure – Continuous population growth, a thriving economy and developments leading to urbanization are increasing burden on the transport infrastructure, which was already insufficient to begin with. Entry into emerging markets such as India will call for innovative solutions to not only support development of better infrastructure but also optimally utilize the existing system. Smart mobility solutions can facilitate and boost the development of a?ordable mass transport systems in regions where a wide-spread network of public transport is not viable, at the same time fulfil and adhere to environmental requisites. Such solutions have the potential to increase social and economic welfare while unleashing a new wave of economic development.

Limitation of cellular coverage – The Auto Expo 2014, held in New Delhi brought to light both – the challenges for connected features in India as well as the opportunity the country holds. Kwid, a new concept car, launched by Renault at the event, houses a built-in drone that can be launched from the vehicle to detect traffic conditions and to spot obstacles on the road. The drone concept was integrated to overcome the problem posed by the only available spotty 2G network in the country. Although the mobile phone penetration in India is nearly 100%, what creates a barrier is the fact that smartphone penetration still remains in the single digits for the country. Owing to dearth of stable 3G network, lack of an ecosystem to support 4G and absence of mobile networks capable of transmitting M2M data, OEMs need to resort to extreme measures to provide real-time traffic information.

Pricing constraints – India is an extremely price sensitive market.This consumer characteristic, prevalent throughout the country limits the potential of innovation and new product development. The OEMs face a competition on price rather than features, making them wary of adding features that would increase the price. This attribute has also created a low barrier for entry in this sector, resulting in mass produced inferior quality products infiltrating the market. Such operators make quick money and shut down operations, leaving a bad taste for  new products.

To combat these issues, it is important to choose players that demonstrate commitment and experience in this sector as well as can develop innovative solutions to address the challenges. Today’s telematics technology provides a cost-e?ective way of controlling and organizing vehicles and mobile workforces for the emerging markets. The advancements in mobility solutions will enable development of designs that makes transportation safer, e?cient, and convenient.

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