View from India: Automotive manufacturers gear up for emission-free vehicles

The Indian auto industry has been moving towards a new era of regulations and technologies with manufacturers constantly innovating and recalibrating to ensure their vehicles are better aligned with a more environmentally responsible future. As a result, vehicles are coming of age, becoming technologically smarter and designed to suit this changing landscape.

One of the biggest recent transformations for the industry has been catalysed by the rising crescendo around clean environment and non-polluting vehicles.

“As of April 1 2017, India has completely transitioned to higher standards of emissions - BS IV. To achieve this, new technologies like three-way catalytic converters and evaporative emission control were introduced in two-wheelers,” said Vinay Harne, president of new product development, TVS Motor Company.

“BS VI norms have also been advanced by four years to come into effect by April 2020. This means that there will be a shift from carbureted engines to fuel-injected ones. Apart from installing electronic fuel injection (EFI), these regulations will also require incorporation of enhanced on-board diagnostics (OBD). Anti-lock braking system (ABS) and combined braking system (CBS) will also become mandatory fitments by 2018.”

India also stands at the threshold of a new electric vehicle landscape. If incentivised and promoted well, it will be the norm in the future. The National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) was rolled out by the government to encourage reliable, cost-effective and efficient electric and hybrid vehicles. Wider adoption of electric vehicles is still nascent due to challenges with battery technology, costs and charging infrastructure.

Manufacturers are evaluating various options in this field to overcome these challenges. Powered by lithium ion batteries, these vehicles are expected to be more cost-effective in the long run. “The government FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles) scheme also incentivises purchase of lithium ion battery-powered vehicles,” explained Harne.  

The automotive ecosystem is also going through a technological transformation. “The next generation of vehicles will talk to each other through the use of digital and artificial intelligence. These technologies have a huge scope in making vehicle movement on the roads seamless through driver assistance systems like navigation, safety and traffic guidance. It will also offer parking and roadside service assistance, emergency calls and remote monitoring services through telematics,” Harne believes.

The intelligent car is fast moving from the drawing board to the streets. “As an obvious precursor to the autonomous vehicle, the intelligent car can give drivers a first taste of the experience of relinquishing control of a vehicle, with such functions as self-braking, self-parking, automatic cruise control based on road conditions, automatic accident-avoidance features, computer-operated power steering and electric parking brakes, as well as electronic throttles and engine control,” highlighted Sudipta Ghosh, partner and leader, data and analytics, PwC India.

Integrating modern, future-ready technology such as accident sensors, vehicular navigation and communication aids with traditional systems can help tackle challenges of road-safety for two-wheeler riders.

Along with road safety measures, it’s also important to provide the necessary road related infrastructure. “There is a need to invest in smoother roads, reliable traffic systems and network and connectivity infrastructure to create an ecosystem conducive to the operability of smart vehicles. The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) initiative to build and monetise multiple public-funded national highway projects can provide a viable ground for testing and rolling out autonomous vehicles,” explained Kavan Mukhtyar, partner and leader, auto, PwC India.

Institutional and industrial campuses with their planned spatial layouts, superior roads, traffic rules and connectivity are also ripe locations to test and simulate the performance of automated vehicles and smart features used in parking and maneuvering around objects. Once intelligent and autonomous vehicles gain traction in mainstream usage within controlled areas, they can then be rolled out over a wider geography in a phased manner.

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