Check the news: the connected car arrives in India

The Internet is raving almost exclusively about the evolution of the connected car in the USA, particularly in California, and a little bit in Europe as well. I say we should take a look at our fellow neighbors from India.

There are a lot of amazing things happening in India that probably not many of us know about. Things are moving slowly, but surely. India is known for its startup ecosystem, and for its developed technology, so it has potential in the connected car world as well. They definitely have the resources to move things even further.

India’s connected car ecosystem

There is a different approach between India and the Western countries when it comes to smart cars. Sudip Singh, Global Head of Engineering Services at Infosys, says that while in the USA, Europe, and Japan manufacturers focus on safety, personalization, and security, in India it’s all been possible thanks to the emergence of smartphones.

India is lacking in infrastructure. This also includes the emergency services number. Even though the infrastructure is not as well developed as it is in the USA, India is relying on the interface of the smartphone applications.

We need to keep in mind in this analysis that India, apart from being on a different continent, also has a different culture. Culture is an important aspect of how people relate to certain things in life. In this particular case, they don’t care much about security or safety, instead they want experience.

Recent investments prove the fact that even big companies believe that India has potential. Nokia is one of those big companies, that has recently “launched a $100 million connected car fund to invest in startups which are in & around the automotive ecosystem”, and India was one of the countries they were interested in. Nokia chose India, because they believe there are many areas that can be developed, and add value to the connected vehicles segment.

The collaboration between companies leads to development

Wipro, which is the third largest IT services company in India, just recently announced that it will collaborate with Agnik, which is a loud-based vehicle performance big data analytics company. You can’t have the connected car, without first developing, and understanding the technology that stands behind it.

Wipro stated in their release that they “will use Agnik’s analytics products in order to offer automotive companies a unique solution to enable proactive maintenance of vehicles, encourage safe driving, and present a highly personalized customer experience”.

In the beginning of October, Clarion launched an Android-Based Connected Car Stereo. Its features include Wi-Fi connectivity, unlimited access to many different music albums and songs, it’s safe to use while driving, access to Infogo (an online music store). It’s not much, but it’s definitely a step forward.

Making the connected car a reality

Mahindra e2o is an electric car, and it is the first connected vehicle developed in India. Mahindra e2o has become a reality thanks to a telecom service provider (Vodafone Business Services), and an automotive manufacturer (Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles). They both united their powers, and made a huge step forwards in this direction. The car was launched in March, 2013.

According to Vodafone’s case study, “There are already 350 e2o’s on the road, all connected to a range of applications and services via the Vodafone network”. The owner of the car is able to access information about their car on their smartphone. They can see how charged the battery from their car is, control the AC, lock or unlock the doors, or find the closest charging station. Also, the owner can receive text messages or alerts to inform him when there’s a security or a safety issue.

Also, the connectivity allows the car manufacturer company to see when the car needs maintenance. Mahindra REVA expects that in the next few years they will sell over 30 000 Mahindra e2o cars.

CarIQ – a startup that makes plug’n’play devices for your connected car

CarIQ is a startup that was founded by Sagar Apte, in August, 2012, and is located in India, of course. They developed this device, which is easy to use, even by children. “How does it work?”, you’re probably wondering. I’m going to tell you. Sagar Apte, Founder and CEO of CarIQ, says that the device is “compatible with all cars post 2008, and are able to communicate across makes and models”.

Every car has an OBD port. Being a plug’n’play device, it’s a no brainer to use. Just find the port and plug it in. The device will then gather all the information about your car, including your location. If you have more than one car, or if you want to use it on several cars, you can do that. The device will reset itself, and it will gather the new information.

The device collects data from the engine, ABS, or air bag system. These are some of the features the device supports so far: technical problems, service alerts, critical alerts, towing alert, crash alert, battery monitor and health, “headlight on” warning, location information, statistics sharing on Facebook and Twitter, over-speeding alert, fuel economy, and others that they will be adding as they progress with the development of the device.

Still, they note that your car might not be able to support all these features, so you need to pay attention to that.

Things are definitely shaking in India

CarIQ, the first connected car that is an electric vehicle, Vodafone’s partnership with Mahindra, and the development of the startup world in India, prove the emergence of this sector in other parts of the world.

Do you think that India’s culture has the potential to influence the development of the connected vehicles ecosystem? Or will it just adopt the USA pattern? Share your thought down in the comments.

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Philipp Kandal