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Automation In The Automotive Industry - An Industry Overview

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Automation In The Automotive Industry - An Industry Overview

Satyakam Arya, MD & CEO, Daimler India, 0

An IIM – Calcutta alumnus, Satyakam, in his career spanning over two decades, has held key responsibilities across major multination automotive companies such as Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra Renault, Mahindra & Mahindra, and Mitsubishi, to name a few.

How Automotive Sector has evolved over the years? Provide an insight on the kind of innovations that the sector has embraced over the years.
The automotive sector has seen an incredible amount of change since Daimler invented the first motored cars, trucks and bikes back in the 1800s. The pace of that change has picked-up in the last 10 years and will only increase more as we go forward. This can be accredited to ‘CASE’: Connectivity, Autonomous, Shared/Services and Electric.

As access to the internet has become more prolific, consumers have come to expect ready access to information. Through their smart phones, their home appliances, their cars; people expect data at their fingertips. This is no less true for commercial vehicles. A good example of the benefits offered by Connectivity is the ‘Truckonnect’ service; using this telematics function, a fleet owner can connect all his trucks to the internet and then make real-time requests for data like vehicle location, fuel efficiency, driving patterns and more.

Autonomous technologies promise equally exciting benefits in terms of improving safety, efficiency and in helping make-up for the lack of qualified drivers available.

Meanwhile, the automotive sector has also been transformed by the emergence of new players such as Uber and Lyft, who positioned Shared/Services as a viable alternative to car ownership. Similarly, the introduction of stricter environmental norms has encouraged manufacturers to explore electrification – hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles, fuel cell technologies, and so on.

At Daimler, we understand that CASE topics will continue to transform our industry for many years to come; as the inventor of automotive mobility, it is both our responsibility and our privilege to shape this transformation.

With the world witnessing rapid technological advancements, what are the autonomous capabilities, automotive industry going to adapt?
While full automation (driverless trucks) is still a long way in the future, some manufacturers have already introduced Level-2 automation. This means the truck can independently brake, accelerate and steer, with the technology helping keep the truck in its lane, a set distance from the vehicle in front. As technology
progresses, the vehicle will take over more and more of the driver’s burden, ensuring better safety and efficiency.

How is this market helping in building a more intellectual and durable workplace? Also, what are the opportunities prevailing in the space at the moment?
CASE affects more than vehicles; it affects drivers too. As trucks become more advanced, they become safer, easier and more comfortable to drive. Look at the cabin of a new Mercedes HDT – color touch screens, multimedia entertainment system, lounge area, cup holders – it looks like a moving living room. These advancements make becoming a truck driver a much more attractive job for a wider range of people. Of course, developing the necessary technologies and services also poses new opportunities.

Daimler India Commercial Vehicles recently conducted a competition called ‘The Farm’. Employees proposed potential innovations that could be scaledup into potential business opportunities. The winners have now been granted the funding and internal resources needed to develop their idea to fruition. This program may well be opened to external parties in the future - a direct opportunity for Indian entrepreneurs from all fields, especially IT.

What role does Automotive Sector plays as a whole in industrial ecosystem?
Commercial vehicles are vital to the industrial ecosystem, particularly for developing countries. Without trucks to transport cargo and buses to transport workers, there would be no way to build the infrastructure a country needs for economic growth. This necessity of our products to India is what motivates us every day. In fact, it’s part of my company’s Purpose Statement; we exist, ‘For all who keep the world moving’.

On a concluding note, based on your robust industry experience and knowledge, what message do you want to put across to the readers/investors/business partners?
A truck is no longer just a vehicle. It’s a vital part of society, connecting people, places and resources. It has the potential to become automated, eco-friendly, an office on wheels. Similarly, a truck manufacturer is no longer just a builder of vehicles. As the product becomes more complex, so does the company and its environment.

How will this affect the automotive sector? There will be more challenges, but also more opportunities than ever considered before. Companies will develop new products & services, and build new relationships. This in turn will generate more opportunities.

As technology progresses, the vehicle will take over more and more of the driver’s burden, ensuring better safety and efficiency


The key to success is seeing change as an opportunity, not a threat. Daimler has thrived for over a century by shaping changes in the industry. So, we know that it is important to not only seize opportunities, but also to create them. Now is the time to be agile, innovative and proactive; if you cannot adapt, you will be left behind.

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