DR S DEVARAJAN is Senior Vice President – Production Engineering at TVS Motor Company
In India, personal mobility has undergone a significant change over the recent years. Two-wheelers are the lifeline of urban Asia, where they account for more than half of the personal vehicles in across most countries. The future of mobility revolves around the technological developments in automation, electrification, connectivity and safety. Going forward, the two-wheeler industry has to focus on offering a range of products, which address the key challenges of the country like emissions, energy security and safety. OEMs have to understand the changing needs of customers and keep pace with the disruption to seize the emerging opportunities. Millennial customers in India are more attuned to the global technology trends and want discerning products which offer better value, safety, fuel efficiency along with a smarter riding experience.
Customers appreciate two-wheelers as a necessity, but are willing to widen the scope to find a unique option, thus opening doors for manufacturers to bring in new technologies, design and first-in-segment features. When we look at the evolving two-wheeler landscape, there are a slew of impressive innovations.
CONNECTED VEHICLES OF TODAY
With the advent of consumer durable technologies, the implementation of Bluetooth technology has soared to the point of it becoming synonymous with lifestyle. Internet of Things (IoT) is also one of the most impactful trends, which is assisting companies across different business segments towards digital transformation.
As the two-wheeler industry transitions towards digitalisation, vehicle telematics solutions are transforming connected two-wheelers from a concept to reality. The rise of digitally connected mobility has paved the way for new alliances involving automotive manufacturers, technology companies, government policymakers, suppliers, telecom operators, insurance firms, and transport operators. With the introduction of next generation intelligent two-wheelers with integrated telematics and smart-assistance capabilities, two wheelers manufacturers are enabling digital applications and features to become mainstream, thus creating an enhanced riding experience.
INNOVATION FOR RIDER SAFETY
India ranks 1st in the number of road accident deaths across the 199 countries reported in the World Road Statistics, 2018. Safety is one of the most important challenge faced by two-wheeler industry and has presented the need to ensure safer riding experience of customers. This has driven technology breakthroughs in two-wheeler industry like electronic braking, ABS, collision warning system, automated clutch and shift, electronic tyre pressure monitoring system, vehicle to vehicle communication etc. Distracted riding is one of the top reasons for serious road accidents and vehicle telematics plays a critical role in addressing this problem as well by establishing a communication channel between Bluetooth enabled helmets of driver and the pillion.
The use of cutting-edge technologies in engines over the last three decades, has resulted in advanced fuel efficiency and reduced emissions for a safer environment. One of the biggest technological transitions in the two-wheeler R&D has been to comply with advanced emission norms, retaining vehicle performance and cost efficiency. Two important technologies impacting fuel consumption are those for light-weighting and for improving transmissions. It has been proved that lightweighting helps lessen fuel consumption, thus resulting in a reduced environmental footprint.
Another important breakthrough in the two-wheeler engine space is fuel injection system replacing carburetors, which significantly improves fuel efficiency. Driven by customer-centric innovation, TVS Motor has developed two versions of BS 6 platforms, namely, RT-Fi (Race Tuned Fuel injection) and ET-Fi (Ecothrust Fuel injection) for its two-wheeler portfolio. The former enhances performance, while the latter improves fuel efficiency by around 15 %.
FUTURE LOOKS GREEN
In a drive towards cleaner and greener sustainable mobility solutions, two-wheelers have a key role to play. Over the course of the years, even three-wheelers have moved from petrol, diesel to LPG and CNG without compromising on comfort, mileage and safety of the consumers.
Electric mobility has gradually started picking up in India on the account of favourable government policies, heightened awareness for environment among young people and stringent emission norms. With major two-wheeler players from India entering the battery-powered manufacturing, electric vehicles are poised to soon become a conventional mode of transport. The future of this technology is dependent on several factors such as extending the battery life of the product in a country, where electricity shortage is prominent and working on the appropriate voltage of a battery as it impacts range, speed, mileage, price, and weight. In terms of technological advancements, we are still at nascent stage of experimentation and the possibilities are limitless.
As the two-wheeler market grows, it must remain competitive, and continue innovating for sustainability. Trends are changing fast and industry players have to ride the new wave to play a key role in future mobility. The full ecosystem of the automotive industry, which includes auto component companies, electronics companies, battery companies and software companies, is involved in shaping these advanced technologies into a reality.
At TVS Motor Company, we believe in creating innovations and best-in-class technology which delight our customers. Our innovations do not stop at the product, but also extends to the customer purchase cycle. With the integration of OBDs in products, customer-centric apps for sales and service to digital systems for information on spares, we look at creating a customer connect for life. Take India for example, the sheer size of this market ensures a sizeable sample base and provides manufacturers with an opportunity to create innovative products across the length and breadth of customer requirements.
TVS Motor has always been at the forefront of advanced technology innovation and will continue to delight customers with best-in-class technology.