Why should we care about Connected Cars in India?

  • By Kamal Aggarwal
  • Jan 1, 2019
  • 6 min read

The mobility ecosystem around the world is going through a big transformation with the mega-trends of autonomous cars, battery powered cars and connected vehicles. These trends are upending the business models of current car makers with major moves being made by various players to position themselves favorably in anticipation of these changes. However, with all these technical advancements in cars around the world happening, one wonders if and when these will be available to masses in India and other developing countries.

On a recent visit to India, Uber CEO commented that it would take massive amount of advancement in Artificial Intelligence to build an autonomous car that could actually run on roads in Delhi, given the traffic conditions. There are challenges related to technology, affordability, regulations and enabling infrastructure which may limit adoption of autonomous car in India.

At the same time, there is a pressing need for enabling Connected Cars in Indian market today for the following reasons:
1. 150,000 lives were lost on Indian roads in 2015 with unsafe driving being a key cause. Our cars are having more and more safety features but rash driving is making them increasingly unsafe for other vehicles and pedestrians on the road. With more people using taxis or driven by others, safety and security of passengers in backseat is becoming more important.
2. With penetration of just 18 cars per 1000 people in India, owing and maintain a car remains out of reach for most. The Total Cost of Ownership of Car (including not just the upfront cost of car, but Fuel, Maintenance, Insurance, Financing and Depreciation) is high as compared to Annual Income.
3. Average daily to and fro commute time in Indian metros is estimated to be 2 hrs. People are spending more of their productive time in cars.
4. Wasteful driving behavior such as Long Idling on congested roads and traffic lights is costing annual fuel wastage of Rs 5400 crores.

In each of the above challenges, there is a role for a Connected Car solution today to make a difference by making the car smart and the driver smarter. We need easy to use solutions that analyze driving behavior and car data from car’s On Board Diagnostic (OBDII) port, that can coach drivers to drive safely and in a fuel-efficient manner. These solutions can bring down maintenance costs by remote monitoring car health and sending timely and relevant reminders about car servicing needs. They can bring down insurance costs for safe drivers by differentiating them from risky drivers, enabling Insurers to offer them discount due to reduced risk of accident. And connected car solutions that provide integrated high speed, always on Wi-fi in the car can open up avenues for infotainment and other services in the car, making the long commute more productive for the passengers.

With over 2.5 Million new cars being sold each year and over 10 Million existing cars on the road in India, an affordable, consumer-centric connected car solution that works seamlessly across car makes and models, old and new cars, has the potential to transform mobility landscape in India long before we see driverless cars running in India.