The past year has been one of the most challenging years for the Indian auto industry. While there were technological challenges for the industry to grapple with, the sustained slowdown in the automotive sector – virtually all industrial sectors struggled, leading to a steady dip in the country’s GDP – has painted a grim picture on what is still considered one of the world’s most promising automotive markets. There is expectation of a turnaround over the next couple of quarters after the BS 6 roll-out on April 1, 2020, but most believe it’s going to be a slow, challenging path upwards. From a long term perspective, though, everyone remains hopeful.
In such a scenario, we reached out to many industry leaders for their views on the mobility transformation that stares at us, and to know what the country needs to do and how. The result is this special edition – our eighth anniversary edition – which is a slender departure from our regular approach, where we bring to you more views and opinions from stakeholders across the industry.
Talking of transformation, it is fairly apparent now that the future of mobility – particularly in urban areas – will be one that is shared, multimodal and emit the least possible amount of pollutants in the air. Multimodality, in particular, is a significant opportunity that the industry as well as the country must take seriously. In a country as large, diverse and populous as India, multimodal transportation promises to be an effective, practical solution – from an economic as well as technology perspectives – both to mobilise people and goods.
Multimodality will also be aided by the progress in on-demand transportation – an area that continues to evolve at a steady pace in India. As consumers continue to make alterations and adjustments to the way they view mobility, cities must also germinate new ideas and help multimodality thrive. There must be equal opportunities for both the public and private sectors to get involved, and succeed. Shared mobility must complement public transportation by addressing the first and last mile connectivity problem.
The third aspect I talked about earlier is that of a cleaner environment. The industry delivered BS 6 compliance in record time, and the switch to electrified mobility has picked up good speed. While there are many concerns yet to be addressed at various levels, the excitement is palpable, especially with the industry committing itself to deliver on the EV promise. Zero emissions might still be a distant dream, but the Indian industry is making great progress – faster than many nations worldwide. There is acceptance of the fact that there won’t be one solution to the climate and congestion conundrum the country faces today, and the industry is prepared to tackle them with elan.
DEEPANGSHU DEV SARMAH
January 2020, New Delhi