Connected Cars in India: The Present and The Future

 In Blog, Indian Market

Evolving Definition of a ‘Car’

Few decades back, a home was just a place which provided shelter. Today, our homes are infrastructural supper for everything we do – from working from home to socialising with close friends. As the definition of home and the role that it plays has evolved over the decades, so has the definition of cars. Earlier, cars were just a means to travel from one place to the other. Quality of time being spent in car was hardly a concern. Safety, reliability and economy were the major criterions one considered while buying a car. Today, time spent in cars is next to time spent in homes and offices. The car is not just a moving box which carries people from one place to the other; the quality of time spent in cars is getting due attention from the consumers as well as the manufacturers.

Connectivity features are set to redefine our relationships with our cars. The rise of ‘Apps’ transformed cell phones into versatile devices with unexpected capabilities. In same way, the connectivity features can be looked up to as total disruptors. While that being said, India is a unique market and rules of thumb which work globally, often do not work in the Indian context. Hence, in this article, we will take a look at the status quo of connected vehicles in the Indian market and some forecasts about the future scenario.

How Things Look Now?

In the Indian market, the era of connected cars began with Hyundai Venue, which was followed by MG Hector, proudly carrying the badge- Internet Inside. Both these cars are fitted with e-SIMs and offer telematics services like remote vehicle controls, emergency call, breakdown call, driving behavior analysis, etc.

Quite a few other large players have either launched or announced their connected vehicles. Kia Seltos and Nexon EV, which has over 35 connected features were recently launched. Nexon comes equipped with ZConnect app. Through ZConnect, users can experience dedicated EV features, remote commands, location-based services, finding nearest charging stations and service stations, Safety and Security functions, Alert services and Driver monitoring features. Kia is also highly dedicated to make its vehicle rich in connected features. Kia Seltos has 50 connected features whereas Kia Sonet comes armed with 57 connected features. MG Motor’s next launch – Gloster is also fully loaded with connected features as well as it comes with many personalisation options.

In short, when we talk about connected cars, they are already here and becoming more and more popular. As per Deloitte’s report on connected cars, the Indian connected car market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 22.2% during the forecast period, to reach USD 32.5 billion by 2025 from an estimated USD 9.8 billion in 2019. Some of the major growth drivers are increase in connected features offered by automobile manufacturers in economy models and government mandates regarding connected technology in passenger cars.

Future = Growth

A study by research organisation Ovum states that the global connected car market will grow from 59 million vehicles in 2016 to more than 308 million vehicles by 2022. While China, Europe and the US are expected to contribute for around 80% of the total global market, the growth rates in India are among the highest in the world.

As per this study, In India, the number of connected cars is expected to increase to around 1.7 million vehicles by 2022, from less than 300,000 in 2016, which is a steep increase. This will also lead to increase in the present penetration, which is 2% to somewhere between 15-20% by 2025.

Another research firm, IHS Markit, says that MG Hector, Kia Seltos and Hyundai Venue have been the game changers in the Indian automobile market. “Until not so long ago, vehicle connectivity in the Indian market wasn’t considered something that would bring people to car showrooms but things have been changing very quickly now,” said Vivek Beriwal, manager research and analysis at IHS Markit in an interview.

Undeterred by the COVID-19

COVID -19 has acted as a speed breaker in almost every sector in almost every country. But, there is an exception! As per the Netscribed Telematics Report, despite the slowdown in the automotive sector in the last 18 months, the market for connected cars in India has seen a steady growth. Vehicle telematics play a huge role in the connected vehicles. According to the Netscribes’ report on Global Telematics Market, the global telematics market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 28.5% between 2017 and 2022 and will reach an estimated global revenue of $233.24 billion by 2022. At the moment, telematics usage in PVs in India is very little. It can be attributed to the cost of the technology relative to the perceived customer value, as well as to lack of general awareness about telematics. But, this is expected to change soon!

Connected Opens Up Many Possibilities

The beauty of the connected features is their wide spectrum – from user comfort to safety to ease of driving. Many companies are picking up their field of expertise and working hard on pushing boundaries using the connected features. For instance,  as per Mohit Bangale, former senior software engineer at Continental automotive components, India, driving on the roads demands high concentration owing to unpredictable traffic and other scenarios in the Indian situation. Voice assisted features can help drivers do many things while remaining focused on the road.  Connected car technology like vehicle security alarms can prevent the theft of valuables from the locked car, which is again a common problem in the Indian context.

According to the Emergency Research Report of 2019, The Asia Pacific region held a significant portion of the telematics market in 2019 primarily owing to the presence of a wide variety of vehicle fleet and an even higher rate of adoption of automotive telematics across India and China.

As per the Research and Markets Report, interest of OEMs to introduce advanced technology was particularly high in India. The same report mentions that one of the main reasons causing the rise in the demand is cheaper technology costs and consumer willingness to pay extra cost for latest technology. Very interestingly, this report also links penetration of EVs to penetrations of connected vehicles.

Some key alliances and developments :

Here are some key partnerships/alliances that have happened recently in the connected cars market in India :

  • Reliance Jio partners with Airwire Technologies and would be offering Airwire devices for incorporation in connected cars with Jio network.
  • MG partners with Cognizant to ensure smooth experience to the customers of Hector.
  • Aeris Communications announced partnership with Omjau EV Ltd. to provide telematics solutions for existing as well as upcoming models of Eeve India.

While the above information and insights sound very exciting, this is just the beginning and not even the tip of the iceberg. To know more about the connected cars landscape in India, please write to me at sudhir.nerurkar@quanzen.com

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