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The Silver Lining Of 2020 – A New Era Of Safe Mobility
The upside to this dreary new normal was that consumers prioritizing their health and that of their loved ones.
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As we inch closer to a new year and reflect back on the year that has passed, 2020 has proven to be the most challenging and disruptive year of this century. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced governments around the world to a complete lockdown, which was followed by economic uncertainty, leading to chaos. Under the guise of chaos, this health crisis presented an opportunity for individuals globally to pause, reflect, and realign their lifestyle, priorities, and perspectives. This leads to a drastic change in consumer behavior and accelerated the transformation that was long due. The upside to this dreary new normal was that consumers prioritizing their health and that of their loved ones.
This heightened consumer sentiment was also evident in the automotive sector, where consumers were reluctant to opt for shared-mobility and public transportation, which led to an increase in the growing demand for personal vehicles. The remarkable growth in passenger vehicle sales since the relaxation of lockdown in July is a testament to this prevailing sentiment. Given this increase in the number of private cars on the road, the number of road accidents is likely to increase.
Presently, India is witnessing a humungous increase in the number of fatalities due to road accidents, with an occurrence of one accident per minute. In 2018 alone, the Ministry of Road & Transport reported 1.51 lakh deaths, the highest the country has ever witnessed. The primary causes of road accidents in India are a result of human error, poor infrastructure, and reckless driving. Studies show that the heightened anxieties caused by the pandemic are likely to amplify irrational road behavior.
India’s truck drivers, who are central to the smooth functioning of the logistics industry, constitute the most vulnerable on roads owing to a hectic lifestyle that demands driving for long hours with little to no sleep. As supply lines resume in earnest to meet rising demands, their lifestyle is likely to become more stressful. A survey conducted by the Indian Economic Survey in 2018-19 showed that 15.8% of road-accident fatalities occur because drivers are overworked or sleep-deprived. This number is set to increase, making automotive safety paramount.
To combat the issue, the government has proposed several plans, including opening an extensive network of driving schools to educate the general population and launching an Integrated Road Accident Database to help analyze accidents. It has also recognized the importance of installing safety features in a car, mandating for the provision of speed alert systems, reverse parking sensors, anti-lock braking system (ABS), airbags, speed alert system, manual override for the central locking system, seatbelt reminders, crash safety norms, pedestrian protection and other such features for maximized safety. In order to deliver to these safety expectations, stakeholders across the automobile value chain are constantly upgrading their technological offerings to provide uncompromised safety.
Leading automobile manufacturers are utilizing this opportunity to take vehicular safety to the next level by using digital technology, design, and ergonomics to their advantage. This has led to the emergence of cars with global NCAP 4 and 5-star safety ratings across all segments within India. Tata Motors is one such automotive brand that has used this opportunity to transcend beyond compliance with mere safety regulations and has been constantly upgrading its offerings to provide fail-safe safety technologies. The company has redefined the future of Indian transportation by progressively investing in research & development of safe, sustainable, smart, and connected mobility solutions.
Automakers are also keeping up with the growing inclination towards electric mobility, endeavoring to deliver unique products to their customers with superior technology. These vehicles meet all the safety compliances that their ICE counterparts provide, in addition to keeping up with additional requirements that EVs specifically are expected to fulfill. A full-proof battery safety feature that offers precise thermal performance, for instance, is seen in EVs and is crucial in a tropical country like India with higher temperatures.
As far as the Commercial Vehicle (CV) space is concerned, OEMs are now providing connectivity solutions that are compliant with Automotive Industry Standards (AIS 140) as a factory fit package, in addition to fleet management solutions to help owners with vital insights concerning the vehicle. This ensures that vehicles not only provide better uptime but also remain safer on the road. At the same time, owners can also choose to remotely monitor driving behavior on the road, with alerts to track harsh acceleration, harsh braking, and rash turning. Such diagnostics and insights go a long way in ensuring the safety of the driver as well as the vehicle, empowering the owner with the knowledge of the same.
As we edge towards the end of what has been a rather tough year, accounting for altered consumer preferences and safety demands is necessary to usher in a new era of mobility. To meet with the health concerns of the consumers with features to monitor health and wellness, collaboration within OEMs, Tier 1, start-ups, and other technology partners can prove to be especially fruitful. OEMs must brace themselves to constantly meet the fast pace of transformation in the automotive sectors, providing smart, safe, and affordable products.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.