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This week in Auto: Electric Vehicles to watch your moves, China moves ahead of India in two-wheeler race

Here is a complete look at all the major headlines in the automotive segment this week

November 30, 2019 / 12:47 PM IST

If you are using an electric vehicle (EV) chances are the vehicle manufacturer knows more about your recent trips than any of your friends and family. In fact technology can even tell where you had a simple chai even if you paid in cash for it.

More on this later in the copy but first here is a complete look at all the major headlines in the automotive segment this week.

Trucks could take five years to rescale peak

As a free fall in demand forced truck and bus makers to undertake unscheduled production holidays and with hopes of a revival remaining uncertain, India’s top commercial vehicle player has predicted a five-year period for the industry to regain its peak levels.

A combination of factors has led to a significant demand contraction for commercial vehicles (CV) since the past one year, with monthly volumes dropping by half for several players and factories operating at just 25 percent of their full capacity.

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Honda resumes production at Manesar plant

Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India’s Manesar plant is expected to resume production this week following a settlement between the permanent staff and their employers.

However, there has been no agreement between the 2,500 contractual staff who have been on a strike against the sacking of over 300 workers, since November 5.

China races ahead of India in two-wheeler demand

A continuous fall in domestic demand has seen India ceding the rank of being the biggest two-wheeler market in the world to China, at least in monthly sales.

China clocked domestic two-wheeler sales of 1,659,000 units in September as against sales of 1,656,774 units in India. This is the first time since December last year that China has trounced India in monthly sale

Auto parts investments on hold

Investments of about $2 billion have been postponed by auto component sector on uncertainty over how long it will take for demand to revive as over a lakh have lost their jobs already.

Deepak Jain, President of Automotive Component Manufacturers Association (ACMA), said the slowdown has forced several companies to put on hold their capacity expansion plans

M&M loses ‘Trade Dress’ lawsuit to Fiat

Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M) said a judge of the US International Trade Commission (ITC) has found that its off-road vehicle Roxor violated Fiat Chrysler Automobile's (FCA) Jeep 'trade dress' and recommended an exclusion order prohibiting import and sale of any already imported parts of the vehicle.

The homegrown auto major further said that FCA has filed a counterclaim in the proceeding filed by it before the Eastern District Court of Michigan, seeking a permanent injunction on manufacture or sales of the Roxor, as well as disgorgement of any profits made by (M&M) from sales of the vehicle.

Mercedes completes quarter-century in India

German luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz on November 27 marked 25 years of producing vehicles in India where it has sold around 1.1 lakh locally made cars.

The company had first started assembling cars in India in 1994 with its production site located in the Tata Motors (then Telco) premises before shifting to its own unit.

EVs to track your every move

Start-ups are known to make use of the latest technology and tune it to benefit their business and simplify consumer connect. But Chaayos, a seven-year-old, private equity-backed start-up, found itself in the middle of an unwanted controversy for using technology which it believed would have simplified and profited its business.

Hoping to offer tea drinkers one of 80,000 chai recipes Chaayos used facial recognition technology at its debut outlet in Bengaluru earlier this month without the consent of the customer. This triggered a backlash on social media from patrons and alike accusing the start-up of breach of privacy and individual profiling.

With cases of data misuse and fraud on the rise private individuals have become more aware of the need to safeguard personal data and identification.

But did you know that the next-generation EVs use and will use technology to track the rider’s/driver’s trip details? Details like location visited, top speed, low speed, average speed of the vehicle, whether the vehicle break any traffic signal, time spent at a particular location, acceleration, over speeding, sudden braking and much more.

One of the leading electric two-wheeler makers in the south of India claims to have data of 3.5 million km logged by its consumers in the past few years. The company knows the above-mentioned details – about location frequented by the rider, charging habits, charging location – with and without the knowledge of the vehicle owner.

The company has tied up with one of India’s biggest telecom service providers to install a sim card in the vehicle. Over the Air (OTA) updates are carried out using this sim card. The rider, however, does not have to pay any carrier charges, as it is borne by the manufacturer.

Yet another big entrant in the electric two-wheeler space will be using the same method when it launches its products in the next few months. OTAs include improvement in battery performance, bug fixes, improvement in motor performance among several other pointers.

But consumers can switch off this feature through the settings option provided on the digital display. Location, geo-tracking and other vital information can be barred from being shared with the manufacturer of the vehicle.

Companies target to build products can become an extension of the consumer’s personality. For this to be achieved it becomes imperative to track the habits, attitude and nuances of the targeted buyer. With there seldom being anyone who would readily share details of personal preferences, likes and dislikes manufacturers have to become innovative and technology is the solution.
Swaraj Baggonkar
first published: Nov 30, 2019 12:47 pm

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