MG has not revealed the SUV’s price yet, but it is expected to compete with the likes of Creta
Astor boasts of technologies such as level 2 autonomous driving, and a Digital Passport
NEW DELHI :
MG Astor may become the first car in India to allow users to make payments right from the vehicle’s dashboard in the future.
The company has been “inundated" with requests from startups who want to be “in the car", Rajeev Chaba, president and managing director of MG Motors, said in an interview. “We even got requests for payment gateways. I think we will have the first car where you can make a payment right from the car," he said.
The Chinese-owned British carmaker announced that the Astor will be displayed in the company’s showrooms from 19 September, and bookings will begin shortly. MG has not revealed the car’s price yet, but it is expected to take on vehicles such as the Hyundai Creta and others priced in the ₹10 lakh to ₹16 lakh range.
MG Astor boasts of advanced technologies such as level 2 autonomous driving, a blockchain-based Digital Passport, and more, unlike most cars in that range.
The company has to work not only with startups but also legacy service firms to create a vehicle-based platform, Chaba explained. “The good news is that even in well established, mainstream and conservative businesses, some of them understand that they also need to evolve because somebody will disrupt their industry and business models," he said.
Newer organisations such as blockchain technology firm Koinearth, which has built MG’s Digital Passport, are working with legacy firms to transform them digitally, Chaba said. “Some of the established names have come forward, are willing to make the schemes for us, and are ready to change," he said.
The Digital Passport is a blockchain-based feature that uses data from sensors fitted on Astor to determine the car’s health and its user’s driving prowess. Such data can then be shared with insurers and resellers by the car’s owners to lower premiums or increase resale values.
The level 2 autonomous driving features that Astor has means the car has advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as lane assist. On roads that have properly marked lanes, Astor will keep the driver from changing lanes without the indicator.
Astor is, however, not the first car to bring such features to Indian roads. Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd has announced that its new XUV700 SUV will feature ADAS, among other technologies. Companies such as Volvo and Mercedes have also used these technologies in their luxury vehicles in India.
MG Astor won’t make compromises in terms of the technology, Chaba said. The company has worked with the German and Chinese units of Bosch Mobility Solutions to adapt the technologies to India and test the cars to ensure that there is no compromise, he said.
“When you talk about emergency braking, the car will automatically stop if there’s a car or bike in front of you. However, if a pedestrian, a cycle or animal comes too close to the car on the side, it may not beep as much because otherwise it’ll keep beeping (on Indian roads)," Chaba explained. Users will be able to disable functions they do not need, and the features may not work based on traffic or road conditions.
MG has also partnered with L&T Technology to perform a cybersecurity audit of its cars to keep track of possible security vulnerabilities. Data from the company’s cars are stored in Microsoft’s data centres in Mumbai.
“You either wait for the perfect time with the perfect solution, or you start with something and evolve over time," Chaba said.
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