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India’s connected truck boom is ‘yet to happen’

In terms of connectivity and the use of innovative technologies, the commercial vehicle sector in India is not the first that springs to mind as a leader, but this could soon change. By Michael Nash

Connectivity in the heavy-duty vehicle (HDV) segment offers a range of different benefits, from optimising routes and fuel consumption to enhancing safety. However, some markets are far ahead of others when adopting the technology.

Currently dominated by older models and plagued by poor road infrastructure, India’s HDV sector could provide a promising market for connected vehicle technologies. This was the main topic of discussion during a panel debate at the recently held HD Truck Pune – a one-day event hosted by Automotive Megatrends.

Speaking to an audience of stakeholders and industry experts, Seetharaman Rajappan, Technical Leader and Engineering Manager at General Motors, described the current rate of adoption of connectivity in India’s HDV sector.

A benefit, not burden

“Fleet management companies aren’t seeing the advantages of telematics,” Rajappan stated. “My understanding is that telematics adoption is being mandated by some of the consigners or big oil companies. They are asking the freight managers to use telematics, and then the managers see it as a burden, not as something aiding them.”

One of the main reasons for these companies to ask fleet managers to offer telematics is so that they can track the vehicles, making sure deliveries are on time and taking the correct routes. However, Rajappan thinks that telematics and truck connectivity now goes far beyond tracking.

The increased use of telematics and connected vehicle technologies could provide many benefits to India’s commercial vehicle sector

“If you look at OnStar, it provides a whole lot of features,” he explained. “The most popular feature is stolen vehicle recovery, which ensures that the vehicle slows down when it has been stolen and can’t be re-started. Other popular features include the diagnostic and prognostic tools.”

A similar view is shared by Sourabh Jha, Business Leader of Connected Vehicles at KPIT. “Trucks transport things from point A to point B, during which there are three important things that must happen,” he noted. “The truck has to travel safely, as quickly as possible, and economically. Telematics is starting to touch on all three of these areas.”

New technologies such as geofencing are slowly starting to be introduced to trucks on the roads in India, making them safer and more efficient, and Jha believes that diagnostics and preventative maintenance are allowing fleet operators to maximise productivity.

Capturing the business

According to a recent report by the research and consulting firm MarketsandMarkets, the global connected truck market is projected to be worth around US$37.64bn by 2022, rising from an estimated US$18.60bn in 2017 to mark a CAGR of 15.14%. India is highlighted as being one of the key emerging markets for connected truck technologies, alongside China, as the demand for increased safety and efficiency in the commercial vehicle sector soars.

As a result, Luke Sequeira, Founder and Chief Executive of fleet tracking specialist Numadic, thinks that it is a promising time to be in the market. “I think it’s a very good time to be in the space because e-commerce is driving the market,” he noted. “At the most basic level, we will see some form of tracking on trucks become predominant over the next few years.”

Jha is also confident that companies will see growth as they learn of the advantages of truck connectivity. “But there is still some way to go,” he admitted. “We are lagging behind in all the basic parameters when it comes to adopting technology and getting business benefits out of the technology. The boom is yet to happen. There is a huge business opportunity on the table, and it’s just a matter of how quickly we can capture that with telematics and connected technologies.”