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An Autonomous Revolution

An Autonomous Revolution

India is now the fifth-largest automotive market and home to nine out of ten most polluted cities in the world. Further rapid urbanisation and spread of cities will require it to adopt innovative mobility solutions.

Illustration by Ajay Thakuri Illustration by Ajay Thakuri

The automobile industry across the world is in the middle of a complete transformation as it becomes smarter and connected. The pace of technology use is being supplemented with continuous increase in processing power and better communication.

The visualisation of the vehicle as the central object will soon be a thing of the past. The future will see interaction between multi-modes enabled through connectivity. Newer offerings, business models and lifestyle-relevant mobility trends are changing the market. One such example you experience these days is the way connected mobility is shaping up and the systems which are being set up to enable the overall sharing concept.

In the last few years, the automotive industry in India has seen not just exponential growth but also technological disruptions. This accounted for a substantial stake in the Indian economy. Earlier this year, India overtook Germany as the fourth largest global automotive market, right behind China, USA, and Japan.

As powertrain solutions evolve, the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) will continue to be the mainstream solution for freight and commercial vehicles. However, ICE in the future would be in a cleaner and greener avatar for meeting the requirements of India's unique terrain, traffic patterns, roads and driving habits.

This will result in a scenario where hybrid solutions and a mix of fuels, including diesel, gasoline, gas, blends and e-fuel, will co-exist. Electric vehicles and hybrids will play a major role in the transitioning mobility scenario.

Future disruptive technologies

The automotive industry globally is being influenced by three disruptive megatrends that are significantly impacting business models across the value chain. These are the powertrain shift towards electric vehicles, connectivity and autonomous driving.

Powertrain migration from ICE to electric: With shift to renewable energy, the focus of this trend falls squarely on reducing dependence on crude oil and bringing automotive technology closer to global climate and emission standards. The improvement of battery performance as part of this trend will result in reduced battery prices, increasing the viability of electric vehicles.

Evolution to Mobility as a Service (MaaS) & shared mobility: Rising from the need to reduce traffic congestion, MaaS, an integrated journey planning platform, will allow users to explore a range of travel options such as car sharing and ride-hailing services. With the ability to now plan and pay for travel on a real-time basis, the industry is bracing itself for great technological disruption.

Autonomous revolution: As technology evolves, vehicles will soon utilise sensors and automation over driver intuition, thereby preparing the industry for future global developments. Autonomous cars, in combination with car-sharing, will vividly change the automobile scenario in big cities across the world.

Mobility is what keeps the engine of life running. Whether it is personal mobility, or mobility of goods across value chains, without the ability to traverse large distances in short time spans, civilization would not be where it is today. In an urbanising world, mobility is integral to city design, facilitating the evolution of physical space for livability. Ranging from pedestrian and personal transport to public transit and freight movement, mobility is a crucial piece of the development puzzle and the key to unlocking the potential of Indias economy and people.

Across sectors, public and private money is being invested in effective and efficient transport. The challenge lies in ensuring that these systems meet the needs of their users in a sustainable manner. It must be clean for environmental benefits, shared to maximise asset efficiency, and connected to meet user needs from end-to-end. Affordability of public transit is key for low-income users, and of freight for industry. Accessibility and inclusivity is crucial for remote and differently-abled users across geographies, with the philosophy of leaving no one behind. Safe, energy-efficient and low-emission systems are necessary for India to meet its international commitments on climate change.

This will ensure positive effects on environment, infrastructure, number of accidents and cost of energy.

The writer is Managing Director, Bosch Ltd President, Bosch Group India