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Pondering the future of India’s Automobile Industry



India is the third-largest automobile manufacturing country in the world, valued at 188bn USD, and is expected to reach a valuation of 300bn USD mark by 2027. 

Compact cars and hatchbacks have been the mainstay for the automobile industry in India, with a share of around 50% and a growth of 6% to 7% between the financial year 2014 and 2017. SUVs too are growing in popularity, with 9,02,951 units sold, which represents a year-on-year growth of 1.96 percent. That might not sound like much, but it is the sole sub-segment in the April 2020-February 2021 period to have clocked positive growth figures.

The fear of the future

Many studies show that the Indian auto companies are aware of new opportunities, but not embracing them proactively for various reasons. Government directives have proven to be the main driver for industry adoption. In the immediate future years, up until 2020, BS-VI implementation has been the main focus of all Indian OEMs. Following this, the next priority for OEMs would be going electric. Other than a few proactive players, most other OEMs still seem sceptical about the electrification opportunity, with a few manufacturers unveiling their cars, and more to follow.

The Rush

But for the fear of not being left behind, all companies are collaborating to work on electrification. There seem to be several unanswered questions that need to be resolved to direct the electric car strategy of the auto OEMs. Connected cars take the third priority driven by the CV market. It will take more time for costs to reduce and penetrate the mid-level segment of cars. 

On the commercial vehicle side, connectivity and telematics will take a front seat with both OEMs and start-ups offering solutions. So, commercial vehicle makers might find connectivity more lucrative than electrification, and thus it could take immediate precedence over it. Connectivity inside factories using Industrial IoT will only begin when companies are convinced with their cost-benefit analysis and take a long-term view. Here also, there will be pockets within the factory that will be equipped with sensors and analytics capability in a stand-alone fashion and none of the players showed significant interest in upgrading an entire factory.

The Need

Autonomous cars are still a long way away for the Indian auto industry. Systems like ADAS (Advanced Driver Assist System), auto parking etc., are features that might get more prominent in the luxury car segment, but will more or less remain as gimmicks until such time as the entire ecosystem develops. There seems to be no cohesive roadmap laid by the OEMs to work on autonomous vehicles, and it featured low on a list of priorities for executives to add to their upcoming automotive portfolio.

However, with Tesla soon setting up shop in India, and the likes of Hyundai, Mahindra, Aether, and Tata offering solutions in the EV space, one can expect the industry to pick up tempo and leave consumers electrified in years to come.

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Starlink Broadband could soon go live in India




Starlink Broadband, the satellite-internet company committed to providing high-speed internet connectivity to areas that aren’t connected to wired or wireless internet, could soon go live in 10 rural areas of India. 

While posting on LinkedIn, Starlink Country Director India, Sanjay Bhargava, said that they have more than 5000 pre-orders from India, with a “stretch target of 2,00,000 terminals active in India in December 2022”, subject to government approval.

While expanding on the subject in a release note, the company said, “​​The government approval process is complex. So far there is no application pending with the government, so the ball is in our court to apply for consideration which we are working on. Our approach will be to get pilot approval quickly if pan India approval will take long. We are optimistic that we will get approval for a pilot program or pan India approval in the next few months”.

Starlink’s plans take flight

Elon Musk also said the company was in talks with airlines about deploying Starlink on board, with users promised low latency half gigabit internet if the plans go through. It was unclear which airlines were contacted or when the installation would take place.  

These aren’t the first rumblings about this plan, with SpaceX Vice President Jonathan Hofeller signing from the same hymn sheet back in June. Hofeller remarked that SpaceX has already done some demonstrations of the technology, and it is looking to finalize the product in the near future, saying that, “Starlink provides a global mesh (so that) airlines flying underneath that global mesh have connectivity anywhere they go. Passengers and customers want a great experience that (geosynchronous satellite internet) systems simply cannot provide”. 

So far, SpaceX has launched 1,740 Starlink satellites, and the program currently has about 100,000 users in 14 countries, with plans to launch 12,000 satellites. 

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EVs: The Future of Human Mobility




As Electric Vehicles (EV) are becoming increasingly popular every day, its market share is also expected to rise greatly. And the economic arguments for this are too strong to ignore; with India heavily dependent on oil imports, transitioning to EVs could help save $60 billion on oil imports by 2030. And the average consumer will be happy to migrate to EVs as well, with fuel prices crossing a century in most parts of the country. Widespread adoption could help consumers save an average of Rs. 20,000 for every 5,000 kilometres traversed, assuming electricity costs will hover around Rs. 1.1 per kilometer. 

Tata Motors is one of the foremost movers in the space, with an early mover advantage. The future looks promising for the leading automaker as the private equity group TPG along with ADQ of Abu Dhabi has agreed to invest in the EV division Rs 7500 crore ($1 billion), valuing the business at $9.1 billion. This most certainly helps the automobile arm of Tata to boost their EV footprint and market share.  

The new investors will be given Compulsorily Convertible Preference Shares (CCPS), which will give them an 11-15 percent ownership in the EV unit after 18 months of conversion, with Tata Motors owning the rest. The conversion will also be tied to certain revenue criteria that have been agreed upon. The first round of 50 percent capital infusion is planned to be finished by March 22, with the remaining funds infused by the end of 2022.  

Tata Motors has already announced plans to roll out 10 new battery electric vehicles in its domestic product portfolio by 2025. The company is also evaluating the creation of automotive software and  an engineering vertical within the Tata group that will help it lead in the sphere of connected and autonomous vehicles. 

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The rise of Electric Vehicles in India




After the boom of Electric Vehicles (EVs) across the world, Indian businesses now seek Government support in order to meet their needs by 2030 i.e., 65% of vehicles in India to be electric. 

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) said that more than 25 companies, including automakers Mahindra & Mahindra and Volvo, oil giant Shell, and clean mobility startups, want India to set firm targets and frame policies to support the transition to electric vehicles (EVs). 

This is India’s first coordinated effort to transition to sustainable transportation, and it comes only weeks before the United Nations’ climate change summit, which is considered as critical to eliciting additional commitments from states to combat global warming. 

In recent months, India has approved plans to encourage companies to manufacture electric vehicles and batteries in the country, boosting supply and complementing a bevy of federal and state incentives for EV purchasers. 

According to the WBCSD, by 2030, companies want 30% of new automobiles, 70% of new motorcycles and scooters, and 35% of new buses to be electric. They want the government to legalize e-bike taxi services, issue fleet permits for electric three-wheelers, make financing and leasing alternatives for electric cars more accessible, and expedite the construction of public chargers in order to achieve this. 

JBM Group of India, Hero Electric Motorcycles, Switch Mobility, Fortum Energy, IKEA, and LeasePlan are among the companies supporting the project. 

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