by Soumik Ghosh

Indian Auto Trends to Watch Out For in 2016

Jan 27, 2016

In the Indian market scenario, consumers who drive medium or low cost vehicles are interested to have latest features in their vehicles but they are very price sensitive. 

In the Indian market scenario, consumers who drive medium or low cost vehicles are interested to have latest features in their vehicles but they are very price sensitive. Economic growth, government policies, rising interest rates and fuel costs are critical elements which a buyer tends to consider before making a purchase decision. Thus price sensitive customers and suppliers must find innovative and economical ways of producing systems at much lower costs for the Indian market. Most of these are macro-economic in nature and automotive sector has to swim through these.

An area that we see growing is Telematics & Connectivity. Since more App solutions are working closely with Taxi services, and safety apps endorsed by the government itself is coming into the mainstream, people are becoming aware of the various possibilities of using connectivity technology beyond just navigation and vehicle tracking. Tata Elxsi is already into the development of vehicle based and smart phone based applications which help Automotive OEM’s and Tier-1’s change the driving experience for the consumer. We are also involved in integration of connectivity features like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, DLNA and MirrorLink which enables user to have access to content on the move.

Another area that we foresee growth would be investments in Hybrids, especially with the Government backing the cause by investing in R&D to bring down the high emissions in the country. Tata Elxsi has been working with car manufacturers and suppliers as part of their product roadmaps in building software & hardware solutions that goes into hybrid systems. 

What 2016 Holds in Store for OEMs

Sri Karumbati, CIO at Stumpp Schuele & Somappa Springs – The country’s largest automotive spring manufacturer, believes although 2016 will not be a “watershed” year for component manufacturers, there will be a lot of key developments, including cloud migration; automation; and mobility.

A notable trend the industry has witnessed is that of car recalls. The concept of a car has changed from being merely a wagon for transportation into a complex fusion of various technologies. Tata Elxsi believes this can be avoided by giving utmost importance to product quality and rigorous tests during early product development stages could be a one of the major step towards avoiding recalls.

Starting from the lowest levels, implementing standards for safety and thorough validation of the product at every stage of production is a sure shot way to tackle this. Tata Elxsi has been providing test engineering & system validation solutions for OEMs & Tier1 suppliers across functional domains. Nevertheless at Tata Elxsi Automotive Center of Excellence, we have invested in test infrastructure and also have setup up sophisticated vehicle labs and Hardware-In-Loop Labs for customers which has proven quite effective in their product development process.

Functional safety (ISO 26262) certification, ASPICE and ASIL-D compliance of the ECU software are some of the prevalent methods to ensure quality of the product, which we at Tata Elxsi have been rendering consultancy and complete solution services.

Safety regulations coming up in India. European regulations are being followed. So, any vehicle being launched from 2017 will have to be complied. For instance, frontal impact safety regulations.

In addition to this, more and more customers are looking at safety as a non-negotiable parameter – Part of the reason why Volvo cars are gaining popularity in the country.

Due to the regulatory mandates, they now have to spend a lot on engineering to comply with regulations. Especially, the safety norms around frontal impact, which will be mandatory by Oct’ 2017.

With tougher competition in the Indian market, consumers are spoilt for choice, and therefore expecting newer models more frequently. This has brought about a push for ‘top-hat’ programs. ‘Top-hat’ programs refer to proven car models worldwide, which have undergone minimal changes before being launched in India. However, this calls for lot of re-engineering to meet Indian manufacturing capability. ‘Top-hat’ programs are not restricted to India alone, but they’re making their way to other emerging economies as well.

Another major success-driver that comes as no surprise is the cost – Cost still is the numero uno factor for cars to be successful in India.

An apt example for this is the Renault Kwid. The company was able keep prices below that of its competitors by localizing production to an impressive 98 percent, thus giving old-timers like Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai a run for their money.

“OEMs can no longer afford to design or engineer a car elsewhere and launch it in India. They’ll lose out on the price factor,” believes Machigad.

Most of the recalls we’ve witnessed in the recent past was due to manufacturers not being able to comply with emission regulations. So, how do manufacturers react to contingencies of this sort?

Machigad believes that recalls are mostly reactive in nature. If you look at cost incurred by OEMs, warranty and recall costs are quite significant, and are eaten away from their bottom line. OEMs are now taking a more holistic approach, by using data analytics, to minimize the impact on the bottom line.