For a few years now, we have seen manufacturers offer different connected car technologies through telematics or OBD-based solutions, aiding drivers’ convenience. But with two upcoming product launches in the Indian market, the race to become the country’s first truly ‘connected vehicle’ is literally picking up steam.
British carmaker MG Motors has been creating quite a buzz with its upcoming Hector SUV. Apart from the fact that this would be the company’s maiden product introduction in the market, it claimed the Hector would also be India’s first ‘connected car’ – a car that would be equipped with a tailor-made operating system featuring an eSIM, essentially giving the SUV smartphone-like capabilities. Apart from offering internet connectivity, the vehicle will have the ability to read biometrics, navigate as per the traffic information and display the car health status in addition to getting over-the-air (OTA) updates.
Hyundai Motor India, however, put a spanner in the works and announced shortly thereafter that its upcoming SUV, Venue, will in fact be India’s first truly smart connected SUV with Hyundai’s global connectivity solution – ‘Hyundai BlueLink’. This will be introduced with 33 features, including 10 India-specific features for most practical and holistic connectivity with safety, convenience and various vehicle management relationship services. The Venue, too, will feature an in-built eSim with Vodafone Idea network.
The Hyundai Venue is scheduled to be launched in May, while the MG Hector might be rolled out about a month later. It remains to be seen how these technologies and features truly pan out in these vehicles. For now though, Hyundai may have been able to steal the thunder from MG Motors in the race to being India’s first connected car.
With these two launches, the industry is taking the next leap in connected car technology. There is little doubt that connected car technologies are moving beyond a simple internet connection, and technology companies are broadening their capabilities by using satellites and mesh networks to improve functionalities that currently exist in vehicles.
India is the second largest online market worldwide after China. As per Statista, India has 560 mn internet users as of January 2019, and by 2023, this is expected to grow to 666.4 mn – maybe higher. The need and demand for connectivity, clearly, will be on the rise in a market that is witnessing rapid growth in internet penetration on the back of cheaper data and supporting infrastructure. How the industry reacts to this will be evident in the times to come.
DEEPANGSHU DEV SARMAH
New Delhi, April 2019