As carmakers race towards developing the best-connected car technology, infrastructure plays a major role. But the question is, can data generated from vehicles be shared on a common platform? How important is this data?

By:Rajkamal Narayanan

Efficiency matters in any business. It is the same when it comes to automobiles. In today’s world, carmakers are looking for ways to make cars more intelligent and safe. One approach is to infuse connected technologies in vehicles. This has proven to be efficient, especially with fleet operators, be it large commercial vehicles or taxis. Such connected telematics is mainly driven by data, and this is useful to carmakers, OEM suppliers, dealers, and even end customers.

The question is, how can India leverage its own data to build a data ecosystem? “Be it buses transporting people, or trucks carrying goods, connectivity is playing an important role,” says Akash Passey, the President, Bus Division, VECV. “The data helps us stay connected with the vehicles on-road, with the passengers in the vehicles, and is helping us gauge the future requirements of our customers. We hope that the data depository will allow us to share data between OEMs and our partners to help end customers.”

“The real power of this data can be harnessed, only when shared across ecosystems,” says Mohan Raju, VP, IoT Business, Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited. “There will be a lot of innovations to connect these ecosystems, and that’s when we will be able to harness data.” Adding to the statement, Pankaj Dubey, the Co-founder and CEO of Power Global India said, “One reason why many car manufacturers moved to countries like Vietnam and Indonesia is because of the high costs involved in logistics. That’s because we don’t know where the vehicle is, leading to higher costs in vehicle movement and logistics. Moving forward, the need for data will become a basic necessity, and the entire ecosystem will have to be more efficient.”

“We have approached this data problem from a slightly different angle,” says Atul Chatur, the Co-founder of The Global MOTODB Protocol. “The cameras, sensors, and other devices that collect data should be controlled by the driver and not the car or the manufacturer.” Sachin Tyagi, the Strategic Business Development Manager – Automotive Business, TomTom, says, “Connectivity has also enabled us to give something back to the drivers. We collect traffic data, and when we relay that to a car, drivers can plan trips accordingly.”

Nakul Kukar, the Co-founder and CEO of Cell Propulsion says, “With electric cars, you need connectivity, not as an add-on feature, but it is an indispensable feature. In EVs, this will lead to the collection of much more data than location and tracking, such as battery health, battery temperature, performance, etc.” As per Nakul, data management will happen at different levels, separating data according to the vehicle owner, driver, OEMs, etc.

Commenting on how the government can help the automotive industry with the smart cities, Akash says, “The government is playing an important role. In the last few years, the government has taken good initiatives, and smart cities’ relevance is around connected data.” Mohan says, to accelerate this entire journey, there are three key parameters, “defining framework, standardisation, and right policies”.

Atul adds, “the government’s move is welcomed, but we need to see what drivers and customers have to say about the connected car revolution. There is a risk when the data is being shared, considering that it was generated privately. It would be nice if the government considers this.”

Speaking about the launch of 5G and how this can impact the connected cars move, Mohan Raju said, “It will be a big boost to the platform of the connected vehicle. It will benefit autonomous vehicles even more. India might be one of the last to start using 5G but will make use of it the most.”