Ashish Gulati, Country Manager India, Telit Wireless Solutions
Telematics diligence is one of the highest emerging sectors in the world and progresses in mobile communication industry have made it possible to detect and determine any variable in real-time. The industry has undergone a paradigm shift, especially when we see the rising number of accidents and thefts in the automobile segment. Indian telematics market is gaining momentum and proposes elevated expansion opportunities to the merchants and market vendor.
The automobile industry globally is implanting more and more telematics to monitor performance and detect any flaws in its vehicles, simultaneously meeting the demands of users for wireless connectivity. According to iSuppli, the BRIC region has the fastest growing auto industry, when compared to the western countries, and the percentages of vehicles embedded with telematics technology are expected to reach 46 % globally by the end of 2018. Yet, development of telematics is still at a nascent stage in the BRIC economies.
India has a huge growth potential in the auto industry considering the rising sale of vehicles. The GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) deal between Indian and Russia in 2010 also projects the future expansion and deployment of OEM embedded telematics.
Backbone of Mobility
Transportation is the backbone for fast moving lifestyle of the present generation; people are heavily dependent on better transit facilities and always strive for new innovations in the auto sector. Telematics is improving the quality of lifestyle by adding functionality and value to automotive, tracking and transport solutions.
India being a vast nation, the adoption of machine-to-machine (M2M) technology in the telematics segment has a massive potential, and M2M resolution is the elucidation to make these things possible and affordable. M2M devices are designed in such a way that it could be incorporated into all transportation segments like cars, trucks, aircraft, trains, trailers, ships and containers.
M2M data modules are extremely sophisticated and come with an array of features and capabilities such as onboard Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology, flexible land grid array surface mounting, embedded M2M optimised smart cards (like phone SIMs) known as MIMs or M2M identification modules, and embedded Java, a significant facilitating technology to step up the Internet of Things (IOT).
GNSS, Short Range, 2G, 3G and even 4G communication modules are the technologies that facilitate M2M communication. This would lead to enhanced quality of life in the developing world. There are several telematics devices that are part of the transportation segment like navigation, stolen vehicle recovery, infotainment systems, electronic toll systems and vehicle diagnostics. This would help in getting real time update, vehicle information, toll, parking and other relevant information.
M2M is also gaining impetus in various subsidiary industries like automobile leasing business, fleet management and related sectors. The rising demands of telematics embedded vehicles are expected to drive down the prices of devices and make it affordable for the companies to incorporate these devices. However, the lack of awareness and cost sensitivity could pose a challenge in this sector.
Globally, the automobile industry is broadly working on the consumption of M2M technologies. Deployment of M2M telematics applications in the automotive industry can help decrease the number of road accidents and damages. Deployment of similar products will lead the automotive sector to increase digitisation in vehicles.
This initiative of the telematics industry will bring resolution in the automotive sector and introduce the system of intelligent traffic in developing countries like India. It will help in live traffic updates, real time positioning, tracking, parking management and also in reducing road accidents. These systems have been implemented in economically and technologically advanced nations like the USA, Japan and Germany, and India is on the verge of deploying them.
With modern cars featuring integrated computer systems and other electronic gadgets that help in the essential control of vehicles, M2M modules today provide vehicles with fully loaded sensor technology, which gives all information about engine performance, temperature and fuel, among others.
Despite of certain challenges like awareness and adoption of M2M technology, Asia and in particular India, has marvelous break in the Telematics space. India as a country faces issues regarding consumer awareness. Most of the high-end consumers are not aware how telematics can make their life simple and how full utilisation would reap benefits for them. This is one of the greatest challenges, which India has to conquer to attain absolute utilisation of immense market opportunities.
German premium carmaker, BMW, showcased its Vision Future Luxury concept car at the ongoing Beijing Motor Show, which is slated to be the concept version of BMW's future 9 series production car. The concept vehicle could serve as the foundation for a new flagship model positioned above the 7 Series. The company though is yet to disclose any production timelines for the same.
BMW uses concept vehicles like the Vision Future Luxury to show its future direction with these themes, and also for new inspiration and motivation, said Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President, BMW Group Design. He said innovative technology and modern luxury have always been an important part of BMW's brand DNA. "The BMW Vision Future Luxury – with its innovative technologies and with meticulous precision and quality in every detail – takes our thinking on modern luxury a logical stage further," Hooydonk said.
Exterior Design: Exclusive, Aerodynamic, Lightweight
The exterior design of the BMW Vision Future Luxury concept is defined by a long wheelbase, short overhangs and low, set-back greenhouse. The concept car sports a liquid platinum bronze exterior paintwork, which BMW claims to generate a warm, shimmering effect. As a traditional BMW style, a contour line along the side of the vehicle provides a strong curve. The ORVM of the vehicle seems to stem out of the chrome window trim. The stalk of the trim is attached to the mirror from below, giving it an appearance of hovering in mid-air.
The BMW Vision Future Luxury concept features BMW EfficientDynamics that provide advanced aerodynamics and lightweight engineering. Design elements providing optimum air flow include the coupé-style roofline, sloping boot lid, air breather system behind the front wheel arch, C-pillar with internal air channelling and openings in the rear apron. The front end of the car sports carbon air deflectors, adding to the weight reduction methods employed by engineers. The vehicle features carbon and aluminium in the right places to achieve higher effect of lightweight engineering, both individually and in tandem, the company said.
Minimalistic Interior Design Approach
The interior design of the BMW Vision Future Luxury has been designed to provide both form and function equally, according to the company. The components not only seem pleasing to the eye, but are also designed to be ergonomically sound. Examples of this can be seen, where a base layer of fine carbon fabric is followed by a functional level, featuring user-interface components, control and display interfaces and lighting functions.
This is then followed by a further structural, load-bearing layer of aluminium for additional strength. As a final finish, the top layers comprise wood and leather to create a warm and comfortable ambience. This layered finish results in the interior geometry being reduced to essentials, which reduces the total weight, as well as leads to virtually seamless transitions and fluid surfaces, the company noted in its release.
The B-pillar of the BMW Vision Future Luxury shows a very innovative design element, as it is almost non-existent. The carbon construction of seat frames of the car are integrated into the car, thus supporting the load-bearing structure. Also, there are connections to the door sills and centre console, requiring only a very small and unobtrusive B-pillar, the company said. This design combined with the suicide rear doors makes the roof look like it is suspended in the middle without any support.
The design of this concept is the messenger of BMW's philosophy of modern luxury, in which innovative technologies play a key and vital role, said Karim Habib, Head, BMW Design. "These innovations deliver a new, multifaceted luxury experience that spans intelligent lightweight engineering, innovative interior design and a radically new user interface design," he said.
New user interface design and BMW ConnectedDrive services
The driver seat has a wrap-around cluster of three intermeshing displays, creating the typical BMW driver-centric cockpit. The display on the left mainly provides vehicle-related information, while the centre one is a programmable cluster housing the speedometer, tachometer and other information. The display on the right is the Driver Information Display that provides additional infotainment information, for which the driver also has the option of controlling by voice command.
Two rear seat displays and a detachable rear seat touch tablet at the back complete the integrated user interface concept of the BMW Vision Future Luxury. These displays can communicate with the front displays and also with the BMW ConnectedDrive services. All content and functions can be controlled from the rear seats using the detachable rear seat touch command tablet in the centre console.
BMW Vision Head Up Display
The primary driver display is the BMW Vision Head Up Display that projects information directly in the driver's line of sight onto the road. Driver assistance functions like speed limit information and traffic light assistant have been given a whole new dimension, BMW said. This BMW Vision Future Luxury offers front passengers their own information display that is connected to the Driver Information Display via a touch-sensitive panel. The front passenger and driver can exchange information between one another using swiping movements.
The BMW Vision Future Luxury features BMW Laserlight at the front with flat twin headlights, a move away from the company's typical twin round headlamps. The new headlight is claimed to set new standards of brightness, range and intensity, as the concentrated, parallel light beam is up to ten times more intense than an LED system.
The rear of the BMW Vision Future Luxury concept is lit up with the help of organic LEDs (OLED) that are L-shaped, and comprise a large number of small, likewise L-shaped OLEDs. An organic LED consists of wafer-thin organic semiconductor layers positioned between two electrodes, with the light-emitting polymer layer only about 400 nanometres thick, BMW Design explained.
Off-roading as a hobby or passion lies in an ironical state in India. While the country’s SUV segment is growing faster than the industry, off-roading as an activity is still in a stage, short of even being termed as nascent. Yet, there is some demand for off-road experiences and for companies such as Polaris, this number although small, continues to grow.
Sensing such a demand, the company had earlier decided to launch experience zones, wherein people can go and experience the combination of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in off-road conditions. In line with the same strategy, the company recently announced the opening of its 20th such zone in the country and the first in the northern part of the country. The new facility, known as the Pickup Fun Zone is located in Dharuhera, Haryana, 69 km from Delhi. The adventure theme park offers an obstacle course comprising of a series of inclines, tight turns and loose surfaces in order to allow visitors to experience the range of Polaris vehicles at the theme park.
At the facility, visitors will be able to choose from a wide range of Polaris ATVs, catering to age segments as low as six years. The vehicles to look out for include:
Phoenix 200 ATV – This small sized ATV features a 200 cc four-stroke single cylinder air-cooled engine, paired to an automatic transmission. This vehicle is well-suited for those experiencing such terrain and vehicles for the first time. The light-weight and moderate power makes the vehicle more accommodating to mistakes from first-timers.
Sportsman Touring 500 H.O – The Sportsman is an extremely capable ATV and requires some riding experience to utilise its abilities to some extent. The vehicle offers engine braking system to control steep descents better and adequate power to make way through bad surfaces and steep inclines.
RZR S 800 – is at the top of the product line, and features a modern electronically fuel-injected engine, resulting in quick throttle response, when needed most during tight turns to drift in and out. Twelve inches of travel suspension along with a light-weight and the mental comfort of having a roll-cage, enables riders to quickly get used to the vehicle and experience higher speeds in a safer manner.
Speaking on the launch, Pankaj Dubey, Managing Director, Polaris India Pvt Ltd said, “Off-roading experience is gaining traction in India. We are witnessing a positive trend towards adventure sports in India. Dharuhera is a strategic location for us as it is a part of the Delhi-NCR region and is on the Delhi-Jaipur highway. We foresee huge interest and growth prospects in Polaris Experience Zone and plan to introduce more off-road tracks in other locations all over the country. With such PEZ adventure lovers can now experience the real off-road thrill.”
The facility is well-equipped to offer an enjoyable experience to off-road enthusiasts and a thrilling experience to those getting their first experience. The cost of this experience is pegged at a reasonable Rs 350 for the single-seater vehicles and Rs 500 for the double-seater vehicles.
Historically, the Auto Expo has been a mega show of the automotive industry in India, but for the first time it has been split into two parts – OEMs & Components. The challenges do not end here since the industry is also going through its roughest patch after years of growth, and market sentiment too is low. In order to understand the expected response for the Auto Expo – Components show and other aspects of the supplier community, we caught up with Vinnie Mehta, Executive Director, Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA).
ATR_ Amid the dismal economic state of the Indian automotive industry, what’s your outlook from ACMA’s perspective?
Mehta_ Our growth is directly related to the performance of the vehicle makers and their numbers have been down since a long period, almost one and a half year. Most vehicle segments, except two-wheelers and tractors, are expected to post a decline this fiscal. As an effect of this slowdown, the component sector is expected to be flat or marginally positive, helped by the aftermarket, which continues to grow at a slightly higher rate than the OEM sector.
Do you see the Auto Expo acting as a catalyst to adoption of new technologies by Indian suppliers?
Yes, indeed! Also, the Auto Expo is a ground for multiple new launches and technologies so there's a lot of excitement in terms of looking at the upcoming technologies. This time at the Auto Expo, there's a unique Innovation Pavilion by the Fraunhofer Institute, with which ACMA has been working for the past several years. This year, they’re going to showcase off-the-shelf technologies, which are readily available for people to pick up and implement. Given the unique positioning and offering by this pavilion, I expect them to create a good amount of excitement in the component sector.
At the Auto Expo this time, what technical domain can we see showcasing more technologies, both from a global as well as Indian perspective?
Pointing out one particular domain would be very difficult from ACMA’s perspective since we represent suppliers of all size and domains. Also, given the fact that we aspire to be a global hub for component manufacturing, we have to equally emphasise on all segments. Our ambition is to move up the value chain and become a world-class industry in the coming years. We can do this only when we focus more on R&D and invest in new technologies, and this is a message already well received by the Indian automotive component industry. The Innovation Pavilion is one of the initiatives, which reflects this thought agreement among the community.
Another such initiative at the Auto Expo is a workshop focussing on how to build an R&D ecosystem. This is another long-term engagement with Fraunhofer, where we would do a series of workshops, through which we can help sensitise the industry and guide them in regards to building an R&D ecosystem.
In the end, everyone aspires to claim right to an Intellectual Property Right (IPR), since that is where the value of innovation lies. In order to move up the value chain of manufacturing, we need to have better presence in the area of IPRs and with the present progress, we should be there soon.
Please help us understand the level of participation at the Auto Expo – Components show.
This is the first time the twins are being separated, so both parties are a bit anxious but we draw solace from the fact that the response to both the events has been nothing short of phenomenal. Also, it’s unfortunate that a country of our stature doesn’t have single convention centre, where we can have a mega show. For the component show specifically, we have bookings for twice the amount of space we can offer. SIAM too is supporting us well by bringing in various sourcing delegations in their executive committee visiting us. There are also requests from various OEM teams to visit the show, including engineering teams, R&D teams and validation teams. These are signs that give us reason to be confident about the show’s success.
To give you an idea, this time we have participation from over 20 countries and have more than 500 new products on display. The total number of products on display is much larger at over 5,000. About 220 exhibitors from the total of 60 are from overseas. We’ve also got confirmed delegation visits from Canada, France, Russia, Japan, Germany and the US.
Is the absence of some global supplier majors a shortcoming in any way in terms of achieving the show’s objective?
Not really, since we do have a varied list of participants from all domains. Also, one needs to consider that these are hard times for the industry, yet we’re house-full, thereby highlighting the excitement among suppliers to showcase their products and technologies.
As ACMA, how do you propose to promote engineering, R&D and innovation in the supplier community?
There are various mechanisms to achieve this objective, one of them being an ACMA committee, which interfaces with the OEM community. This body broadly looks at creation of an environment where OEMs and suppliers can work together in a symbiotic environment. Also, R&D involves a huge risk so there are discussions around the sharing of these risks. ACMA also operates its own technology centre known as the ACMA Centre of Technology (ACT), which has highly qualified counsellors, who go to various companies and help them with many innovations. Until now, interventions have been limited to the process level. For the next level, we’re now launching a cluster programme, called the new product development cluster programme. Herein we aim to help make innovations that address the challenges related to aspects such as R&D and product development. Such initiatives and many others should help people move in the right direction. We’ve been a build-to-print industry so far and now need to take a leap to become a solution developer. The risks involving this leap are huge and this is where ACMA works with various stakeholders to develop a mutually beneficial ecosystem.