Mobility in India is at the cusp of a revolution, one where the landscape as we know it is changing dynamically. This is why the Intelligent Mobility Summit, an event by Frost & Sullivan, where mega-trends such as electrification, urbanisation, intelligence and more were explored in great detail by experts from across the automotive industry, couldn’t have happened at a better time.
The event was kicked-off with a power-packed keynote session – a CEO’s panel on the future of mobility in India and the transformational shifts and growth opportunities that it will bring with it. The panel was moderated by Sarwant Singh, Frost & Sullivan’s Regional Leader for Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA), as well as its Global Head of the Mobility, Aerospace, Defence & Security Practice.
In his presentation, he said: “Much like in the rest of the world, technology has changed the rules of engagement in India’s mobility industry. The future will be defined as much by collaboration as by competition. Stakeholders—private and public, automotive and non-automotive, manufacturers and service providers—have to come together with a common sense of purpose to drive transformative growth, nurture innovation, and create value.”
He added: “A siloed approach will no longer work, instead, what the Indian mobility industry needs is to work towards a future that is smart, sustainable, safe, and seamless.”
Auto Futures caught up with him at the event to know about his thoughts on mobility trends such as CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric), to which he said: “If you look at CASE, the fastest growth is in the shared mobility space, especially in ride-hailing. It’s already huge in India; the numbers are simply astonishing.”
“But when it comes to opportunity areas in India, electric looks amazing. It’s across the ecosystem – right from making components to the vehicles. I think this is going to be the case especially for two- and three-wheelers; they’re going to take a leap. The same goes for bus and truck manufacturing. We have world class bus and truck manufacturers like Ashok Leyland and Tata. So can they step up? The answer is yes. I think there’s an opportunity there.”
“I think for connectivity, there are a lot of benefits for the customer, whether it is navigation, traffic information, infotainment, entertainment, fleet management, etc. Personally, I’m especially interested in the health aspect of it. We don’t talk about autonomous so much, but I think in India, autonomous 1 & 2 can save lives. For instance, if you have an emergency brake assist, it could save you from an accident. I also think those features can be Indianised and can be bought at a much cheaper price.”
Pravin L. Agrawal, Joint Secretary of the Department of Heavy Industries, was another member of the CEO panel. He stressed the need to develop new business models to keep up with an industry that is changing quite dynamically, also going on to propose solutions such as retrofitting old models with electric drivelines, developing range extenders and designing new business models for last-mile connectivity and shared mobility, with the hope that entrepreneurs come forward and work in these areas.
Anil Srivastava from NITI Aayog firmly stood by the figures projected by the Indian government when it came to electrification. Seeing the work that the Indian government is putting in areas such as policy and infrastructure, he was highly optimistic that India will reach its electrification milestone, further adding that 2035-40, India will be in the same place as China in ride-hailing and electrification.
Srivastava made a very interesting observation that most mobility solutions in India were “imported” after being deemed a success in other countries. However, mobility trends in India were quite different. For instance, the average travel in India is below 5 kilometres, 60% of travel is non motorised and resources, infrastructure and asset utilisation are extremely stretched. This is why, he said, the need of the hour was to create India-centric solutions, that are designed not just for Indian cities, but can benefit rural India as well.
In a video message, Gautam Hari Singhania, Chairman and Managing Director at Raymond, spoke about his deep-rooted passion for supercars. Making a case for reducing the heavy import duties on the niche supercar market, he said that even if import duties were reduced even by 50%, supercar sales in India will see a staggering rise.
Pankaj Jhunja, Head of Mobility Services, Tata Motors, propagated the ecosystem approach, while Nagesh Basavanhalli, MD & CEO, Greaves Cotton Limited, pointed out that with increasing urbanisation, the bottom of the pyramid is increasingly mobile and wants a solution specific to India, adding: “Solve unit economics, and you can solve the last mile connectivity issue.”
Blaming the millennials…
One topic that was brought up by a panel discussing the emergence of new business models was the government’s stance that blamed the slump in the Indian automotive industry on the ‘millennial mindset’ of using ride-hailing services such as Uber and Ola.
When the panel moderator – ET Auto Editor, Nabeel Khan – asked the audience to do a show of hands if they believed that this was truly the cause for the slump, only a few hands went up. To this, panellist Ramashankar Pandey, Managing Director, HELLA India Lighting, stressed on the need for asset-light ecosystem, as well as the need for collaboration with non-automotive participants.
All in all, speakers and panelists shared their thoughts over a whole gamut of very interesting topics related to future mobility in India.
Kaushik Madhavan, Vice President, Mobility Practice, Frost & Sullivan, concluded that there has been a paradigm shift in the Indian automotive market. He believes that the one-size-fits-all approach is now outdated.
“The future will be about greater localization predicated on offerings that match particular geographies or local sensibilities; personalization will be made possible by artificial intelligence. In the future, differentiation will come from highly individualized services that will not only take the customer experience to a new level but will also create the groundwork for sustainable industry growth,” says Madhavan.