India’s automobile industry is one of the most capital-intensive sectors with a big appetite for re-investment. (Ramesh Pathania/Mint)
India’s automobile industry is one of the most capital-intensive sectors with a big appetite for re-investment. (Ramesh Pathania/Mint)

Opinion | A look at what lies ahead for the automotive sector in the country

  • India has been growing at a robust pace for quite some time and remains among the world’s fastest-growing economies
  • The consumer market, especially in a large and fast-growing developing country, will periodically fluctuate

As a business leader, I have learnt the value of equanimity. I know that certain developments, which feel something unique to that moment, are mostly just patterns repeating themselves. Take, for instance, the recent economic slowdown in India and, in particular, the automotive sector, that has people worried about the future and what it holds. But I am not unduly worried about what the future will bring. As a matter of fact, I am looking forward to it with eagerness and excitement.

The rise, the fall and the resurgence: The inevitable cycles of any consumer market

India has been growing at a robust pace for quite some time now and remains among the world’s fastest-growing large economies, even after the slowdown. The strong pace of economic growth, however, cannot be expected to sustain unhindered. The consumer market, especially in a large and fast-growing developing country, will periodically fluctuate between hyper adoption and low demand. Sweeping policy changes disrupt the normal economic rhythm. Consumer sentiments and sensibilities may evolve beyond what the market offers. As a result, the market slows down until it reaches a point of inflection. This is exactly when the maximum innovation takes place. Disruption becomes a byword as technologies evolve at a rapid pace. Newer models of business operations and service delivery supplant the outmoded ones. I believe that the Indian economy currently stands at the cusp of one such inflection point.

E-mobility and connected mobility: Innovations in the Indian automotive sector

The biggest example of this innovation reflects in the automotive space. Take the recent focus on connected mobility, for instance. The modern Indian consumer does not view mobility as the process of getting from one place to another. For them, it is a service that must be consumed, experienced, engaged with, and talked about. This is why many OEMs are now focusing on delivering unique connected experiences to their customers by integrating their products with advanced technologies and machine capabilities. AI-powered voice assistants, in-car infotainment, smart navigation through a dashboard console—all of these features, which once seemed so futuristic, are a part and parcel of the new breed of vehicles. But innovation isn’t limited to technology; it also denotes a transformation in the way people, policymakers and brands think about services and products. This not-so-silent evolution is most accurately reflected in the momentum that India’s nascent EV revolution is gathering at present. More encouraging, however, is the strong commitment that players in the Indian automotive industry have demonstrated to sustain and build on the EV momentum. For instance, MG Motor India has been collaborating with leading players in the clean energy space to develop a pan-India ecosystem for its customers’ EV charging needs. Moreover, in line with our vision to enable a cleaner and greener future, we are also exploring second-life applications for used ZS EV batteries, as well as for safe battery disposal. Through such steps, we aim to underline our readiness for the imminent EV revolution.

Auto Expo and its role in bolstering automotive innovation

All of this brings me to why I am looking forward to attending the latest edition of the Auto Expo: Innovation. More importantly, I am excited about the diversity of innovation that promises to be on offer at this biennial event. Auto Expo 2020 will see more than 60 new products at the cutting-edge of automotive innovation. Players across sectors such as clean energy, battery disposal and in-car technology will also be participating at the event. From advanced EVs and battery technologies to next-generation autonomous vehicles and vehicle components, it will be the place where the future of the Indian automotive industry will be defined.

This year’s edition will also be the first auto expo that MG will be participating in. I am excited to give a glimpse of our range of best-in-class global products to consumers and other industry stakeholders. As a future-ready brand, we have pioneered many industry-first features and technologies in India through our products, the Hector and the ZS EV.

As leading automotive companies and players in allied industries continue to work towards making cars smarter and more intuitive, newer technologies, such as artificial intelligence, analytics, Internet of Things and robotics, will become an essential part of the vehicle development process. The auto expo is the perfect platform to showcase this ongoing evolution of the automotive sector. So, here’s to the future that promises so much, as we reiterate our commitment to realising its full potential.

Rajeev Chaba is the president and managing director of MG Motor India.

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