Connected Vehicle

Next Generation Connectivity: Road Transportation Set for a Quantum Leap

Within the next decade, every vehicle on roads in India and across the world that are involved in moving goods or people will be fully connected and will operate in an autonomously organised transportation ecosystem, That’s the strategic view of vehicle technology leader ZF, which has long pioneered advanced connectivity and digital innovations at the vanguard of ‘Mobilizing Vehicle Intelligence.’

The digital transformation of the commercial vehicle industry is gathering pace with data-driven and software solutions helping achieve ever-higher levels of safety, efficiency and sustainability. Leveraging its pre-eminent position as the world’s largest supplier to the commercial vehicle industry, ZF produces holistic systems which enable vehicles to see, think, and act. Helping shape Next Generation Mobility, ZF is helping propel the industry towards an increasingly Automated, Connected and Electrified (ACE) future.

These ACE technologies have the potential to revolutionize mobility, enhancing safety, and operating efficiency while reducing fuel and emissions as well as lowering the Total cost of Ownership (TCO). In line with global trends, India is fast gaining ground in developing smart mobility solutions for commercial vehicles powered by ACE technologies.

Through advanced Fleet Management Solutions and digitalisation, the future of connectivity and mobility automation will undoubtedly see road transportation take a quantum leap over the next decade. India is no exception. The adoption of advanced connectivity solutions is also gaining prominence across India’s commercial fleets. Many Indian fleet owner-operators already benefit from the real-time rich vehicle and driver data available through telematics technology.

Greater commercial vehicle industry sustainability continues to be achieved through the ongoing reduction in carbon emissions. India has taken several initiatives in support of this goal, including the increased adoption of electric vehicles. India’s government launched the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme which has boosted the country’s adoption of electric vehicles. The Indian electric commercial vehicle market share reached 57% in 2020 and is poised to grow further as a result of the significant economic and environmental benefits they offer to OEM customers and fleets. 

These benefits are also fuelling the drive towards ACE technology adoption across India’s commercial vehicle industry alongside improved safety, operational efficiency, enhanced driver comfort, lower fuel use and operating costs as well as smart fleet management. Digitalization is also paving the way for new opportunities to further enhance efficiency and shape the future of mobility. This includes:

Advanced Drive Assistance Systems (ADAS)

In India, aapproximately 30%* ( according to MoRTH , Govt of India) of road accidents involve commercial vehicles. Addressing this serious issue, the Indian commercial vehicle market is witnessing a paradigmatic shift with fleets increasingly focused on improving vehicle safety. This has led to the increased development and adoption of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) to support drivers and help avoid accidents.

By connecting ADAS with advanced digital solutions, new avenues are being opened to enhance safety and efficiency. Connected vehicles are capable of joining with multiple devices over wireless networks to assist drivers with a wide range of support functions as well as providing driving, vehicle and environment information.   

ZF develops highly automated driver assistance systems as well as smart, connected solutions. Digitalization represents a powerful enabler for shaping future mobility in India and world-wide. As a global technology ‘one-stop powerhouse’, ZF has unparalleled experience in ADAS hardware and software technologies, OEM-specific validation, and being fully compliant with Indian and international regulations. This unrivalled experience and range of competencies, creates an efficient process which is changing the way ADAS systems are brought to market. 

ZF’s extensive suite of intelligent ADAS solutions include Electronic Stability Control, Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot and Forward Collision Warnings, Collision Mitigation systems, Adaptive Cruise Control as well as AEB for vehicles and to help protect pedestrians and cyclists. ADAS also enables higher levels of autonomous driving including platooning, and yard automation to help fleet owners maximize safety, lower their TCO and providing enhanced comfort and support for drivers at all levels of experience. 

Vehicle Motion Control

Vehicle Motion Control includes technologies that influence the longitudinal, lateral and vertical dynamics of a vehicle. Mechanical and mechatronic components such as steering, brakes, dampers and electronic control units, are complemented with advance software developed in-house by ZF. This helps achieve optimal driving strategies and seamless interaction of the vehicle’s control actuators.

As an essential enabler for automated and autonomous driving, cutting-edge software  is embedded within the ECU, advanced sensors, smart control systems and intelligence actuators as a plug-and-play solution, enabling both longitudinal and lateral vehicle control.

ZF is a global leader in the development of highly complex and proven brake technologies for commercial vehicles. As a systems solutions supplier, ZF has leveraged its braking systems expertise to develop fully integrated solutions. For example, ZF implements automatic emergency braking and avoidance assistance through the interaction of brakes, sensors and electronic control units. These can help avoid or mitigate collisions with other vehicles and pedestrian.

As braking systems are the foundations of vehicle safety, increasingly automated and autonomous vehicle technologies are being integrated with truck braking systems. ZF’s comprehensive portfolio of commercial vehicle braking systems, suspension solutions, transmission, steering, axles and drivetrains, combined with its advanced connectivity capabilities offers many advantages for customers. This includes helping maximize fleet safety as well as cost and operational efficiency which represents a strong potential winning edge for commercial vehicles in India.

Autonomous Driving

Autonomous driving is widely viewed as a game-changing innovation for commercial vehicles as it is increasingly becoming for passenger cars. Autonomous driving for commercial vehicles has gained significant traction in recent years, particularly with the  significant rise in e-commerce deliveries. Given the enormous potential for automated commercial vehicles, autonomous trucks could even become more commonplace than driverless cars in the years ahead.

The financial benefits of automation, largely derived from enhanced efficiency, driver assistance and productivity, are particularly significant for commercial vehicles. While the path towards full vehicle autonomy is being mapped at a pace never before seen, there are many more miles to go before the final destination is reached. Key truck and trailer functionalities have already been automated prepare the way for further evolution towards fully autonomous commercial vehicles. In controlled environments across the world such as shipping ports, mines and large industrial sites, commercial vehicles such as trucks, tippers or loaders are already greatly benefiting from autonomous technologies and yard automation solutions. Similarly, the advances in ADAS are continuing to help make mobility ever-safer.

The greatest potential for autonomous commercial vehicles is arguably within cities, where immediate action is being demanded to address environmental and sustainability challenges. Nevertheless, increasingly autonomous vehicles operating from controlled sites to the highways with truck platooning technology and highway pilot functions, for example, are also making headway.

ZF has developed highly sophisticated telematics solutions that collect and analyses data to enable better informed fleet management fleets decisions to be made in real time, from routing to refuelling. ZF is providing the foundations for autonomous driving through its comprehensive portfolio of in-house developed sensors, cameras and LiDAR.

Integrated Vehicle Safety

Integrated vehicle safety combines active and passive safety technologies and goes hand-in-hand with the development of increasingly automated and autonomous driving. Advances in safety technology, including increasingly powerful electronic control units, and sensors, form the basis for increasing levels of semi and fully automated driving functions. Integrated safety enhances comfort, convenience and driver support with easy-to-use assistance systems and functions such as vehicle occupant health monitoring. These technologies can help assist in critical driving situations, safeguarding occupants.

As a leading developer and manufacturer of proven active and passive safety technologies, ZF is focused on helping reduce the potential for human error which is the root cause of approximately 90% of road accidents, according to [source]. With the advent of active safety technology like ADAS, drivers are supported in emergency braking or evasive maneuvers to help prevent accidents. ZF also provides collision avoidance systems as well as automatic emergency steering and braking among many other active safety technology solutions.

Passive safety technology also plays a crucial role in mitigating the impact of accidents for vehicle occupants and other road users. ZF’s passive safety product portfolio includes a range of innovative technology solutions such as active seatbelts which ensures seatbelts are free of tangles and remain at the correct tension, particularly during emergency maneuvers.


ZF is also at the vanguard of the commercial vehicle industry’s electric transformation to support a more sustainable future. eMobility is gaining significant traction with approximately 24% of demand in global markets expected to be for all-electric commercial vehicles, according to a study by [source]. This demand is expected to grow further to 28% in 2031 and to 53% by 2035.

There is already considerable momentum in the electrification of delivery vehicles, buses and other key urban vehicle segments world-wide. Several leading manufacturers are also working towards introducing battery-electric or fuel-cell/battery models over the next couple of years. 

Fully committed to eMobility, ZF’s extensive electrified product portfolio addresses the industry’s need for clean and efficient technologies. Supporting both conventional fuel  and all-electric vehicles, ZF has developed an unrivalled range of electric solutions including drivelines, air management, steering and braking technologies, paving the way towards an increasingly electrified future. Demand to reduce carbon emissions, energy consumption and deliver ever-lighter commercial vehicle components and systems is already helping drive the growing adoption of eMobility solutions. 

Through the Paris Climate Agreement, India has committed to reduce carbon emissions by 30 to 35% by 2030, creating a further boost to the adoption of electric vehicles. Similarly, the Government of India’s roll-out of its FAME scheme is accelerating the take up of electric vehicles in major cities.

In India, last-mile delivery accounts for about 53% of total delivery costs [source] which makes it the most expensive part of the shipping process. These cost challenges can be significantly addressed by electrification which is a key reason why it is gaining ground in India, with e-commerce businesses firmly focused on electrifying last mile deliveries.

Shaping the Future of Next Generation Mobility

Globally, mobility leaders are increasingly focusing their efforts on developing ACE technology solutions. Regulators are also introducing mandates to ensure the latest technologies meet the highest safety standards. Highly automated Level 4 commercial vehicles could well start to be seen on our roads within the next three years. 

In India, the government is bringing out policy-level changes to drive the adoption of ADAS, e-mobility systems and intelligent solutions for commercial vehicles. ACE technologies are gaining ground in India to address the challenges surrounding safety and road traffic accidents. The increased take-up of digital connectivity and fleet management solutions in India will also help take safety and efficiency to the next level.  

The mobility landscape in India is currently undergoing a radical shift. Supporting this trend, ZF is providing the capability to shape the future of commercial transportation systems to meet specific Indian market needs in line with leading global standards. The technologies and services for commercial vehicles and fleets across India are increasingly making them more efficient, safe, connected, intelligent and automated. 

During this transition period, old and new technologies will continue to coexist with ZF driving the needs of the future of mobility with innovations for both conventional and electric vehicles. This is particularly important for India as its commercial vehicle industry transforms at varying speeds towards an increasingly Autonomous, Connected and Electric (ACE) future. Hand-in-hand with the many benefits these advanced technology domains promise, India is well-positioned to enjoy a quantum leap as its commercial vehicle industry embraces the transformation.


V Ramanathan

Head – OE Business, Commercial Vehicle Solutions Division

ZF Group

Published in Telematics Wire

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