BusinessLine@25

Disruption at the wheel

Thomas Kuehl | Updated on January 27, 2019

Thomas Kuehl - President, Thomas Kuehl, President, Nissan India Operations

The auto sector in India and worldwide will change more in the next few years than it has in the last few decades. The transformation is rooted in disruptive trends. Today's consumers are more aware and seek out the best in-brand experience, total cost of ownership, customer service and, of course, technology. In response, the auto industry has adopted a near-unanimous understanding that the competitive advantage lies in being at the cutting-edge. To survive and thrive, automotive companies must make what yesterday was considered futuristic, into the everyday of tomorrow.

The disruption is taking place due to four imperatives for industry: electrification, shared mobility, autonomous driving and connectivity – all part of the ‘Nissan Intelligent Mobility’ vision. Electric cars are already accepted by customers the world over, and there is bound to be more penetration in the next few years. Shared mobility services are also springing up across the country and changing how people own and use cars. Autonomous driving may take a little longer to arrive in markets like India; however, Nissan is well on its way with global ‘ProPILOT’ technology, currently offered in certain markets, with more coming soon.

Substantial research and development is under way to enhance the technology so it can work well with the different driving behaviours and road systems in a variety of countries. The first big change most customers are seeing already, though, is in connectivity.

Most people are increasingly living their lives online, and why should it be any different when they get into their cars? Connectivity offers customers a fully-integrated digital in-car experience. From being notified when a service is due, to checking whether the driver is stuck in traffic, to tow-away alerts, many benefits are already in cars today through Nissan Connect. By 2022, over 75 per cent of connected car package deployments will be on smaller, less-expensive cars, clearly making the technology India-relevant. We are ahead of the game with all Nissan cars already connected in India.

The possibilities of connectivity are endless. Nissan’s futuristic ‘Invisible-to-Visible’ (I2V) technology; I2V-enabled cars can drive manually or autonomously while showing drivers a depiction of the outside world through a 'Mixed Reality' interface fed by sensors and cloud data, which we call the ‘Metaverse’. This technology suite enables the system not only to track the vehicle's immediate surroundings but also to anticipate what's ahead – traffic jams, exciting events nearby – or even showing what's behind a building or around the corner.

Making such strides in connected mobility and other aspirations a reality for the Indian market takes scale. R&D teams and engineers are developing next-generation disruptions in India, for India and for the world. It is heartening to see ‘Made in India’ in action, with Indian expertise playing a leading role in developing the future of mobility, which is bright and exciting.

The author is President, Nissan India Operations

Published on January 27, 2019

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