Pragmatism at its best


The whole world was in sleep mode while China was conquering different frontiers with contract manufacturing, and direct production. Before the world realised, China had become the number 2 economy behind the US. They became number one in the car manufacture, new infrastructure, contract manufacturing and many other areas which included computer games.

But something has been definitely changing in China, and China has started flexing its muscles and is showing an expansionist tendency of late. China tried the same act with India in Ladakh, probably hoping that India will blink first. They made a significant error of judgment, and India pushed back hard. All these years, India was not mixing border disputes with the trade. But Galwan changed everything.

After Galwan skirmish, India is systematically trying to push China, where it hurts. It started with slowly not allowing the Chinese companies to take part in tenders for infrastructure. The masterstroke was banning gaming and other apps. If you read carefully, the gaming companies hardly make money by the usage, but they are after their valuation done by the market. The valuation of such companies is dependent on the number of downloads and the number of active users. As these numbers increases, their valuation increases proportionately.

TikTok has about two billion downloads. Their current valuation is the US $50/ billion. These are market figures, and in the event of sale of the TikTok, by the parent company, ByDance is expected to make the US $ 50/ billion. India ban and future US ban will reduce the active users from the current 800 million by 35%. This reduction can severely affect ByDance’s TikTok valuation.

India has shown a great pragmatism by acting against the apps, which include a search engine and a chat application. By doing so in India, we will be hardly affected, but the Chinese companies owning these apps will be definitely affected. People had doubts that by banning Chinese products, production of Indian manufacturing companies could get affected. But the Indian Government has been more pragmatic. They have not taken any such steps. The steps taken are well thought as they are being implemented.

Following the Indian action, the US government also declared that it is going to ban TikTok in the US. In a surprise move, Microsoft has announced that it is in the process of buying out TikTok operations in the US, Australia and New Zealand. (Today’s news is that they want to buy global services)Though the total active users may not be as large as in India, they would be substantial. Why do they want to buy TokTok? The reason is that there would be considerable consumer revenue from advertisements, an area where Microsoft is lagging way behind FB and Google. Customers will get a trusted and secure provider that all the governments trust. None of the other social media biggies, like Facebook, Google can buy due to the anti-trust investigation going on in the US senate. Whether Microsoft will buy it or not depends on many factors. The first of these would be who blinks first? Microsoft or TikTok? Is Microsoft more desperate to buy or is TikTok more desperate to sell? Microsoft is loaded with money. A few years back they bought out LinkedIn. Before that, they had acquired Nokia’s cell phone business- the acquisition which miserably failed. But looking at recent Microsoft functioning, they appear to be pretty much in control of what they are doing. With Azure/Cloud computing business taking off for Microsoft, they again seem to have got their act together.

I have written about the business side of it. But even the US government led by President Trump has taken a pragmatic decision for a change. Without saying so, they have declared that they will ban TikTok US operations from 15th September. It means they have given leeway and time to Microsoft till that date. It is a very pragmatic and practical decision. It could have quickly banned TikTok overnight, but it saw that Microsoft was trying to make a deal where they will pay some money to the US government in the form of taxes- the amount would be directly proportional to the size of the contract.

As against that, there was a news item which said that Tata Motors is trying to hive off their car business in India. It wants to sale 49% equity to some reputed car manufacturer but intends to retain controlling shares with them. Is it pragmatic? Hiving off is pragmatic but trying to maintain control is not! Why is Tata Motors diluting their stakes? The first reason that I see is that they feel that they can not become a serious player in the Indian market with the current quality of cars being produced. The Sierras, Estates, Indica, Nano have created a long list of products which became difficult to sale, even in India. It became apparent once the Suzukis and Hyundais of the world took a firm foothold in the Indian market. With the new range of cars like Tiago and others, Tata made a bit of comeback. But this is not going to be enough. It is always going to be a catch-up game.

With Suzuki and Toyota coming together in India for both the IC engine and Electric cars, it is going to be tough for the competition to challenge them. Suzuki is a well-proven numero uno in India. Money power and technology of Toyota will boost the operations further. The combination is going to be tough for the competitors. They have also decided to come together in Electric Vehicles. Their battery plant is well on its way in Gujarat, in collaboration with Toshiba. For EV’s, it is going to Toyota design, Suzuki manufacturing cars for both for themselves and Toyota too, in India. The engine- battery power pack, would be Toshiba technology, which will be a win-win situation for all.

As against this, Tata Motors is going to find it difficult if they do not become pragmatic and handover control to the new partner. Especially with JLR facing tough times in China and other international markets, pragmatism is what is going to help. Sometimes it is essential to bite that bullet. There is a history of two significant partners not being able to work together. Bajaj Auto and Kawasaki tried this for some time, but it did not work out. Once Hero became very big, they broke the collaboration with Honda. Aramco and Reliance have been trying to come together in India, but somehow it is not working out, yet. But looking at history, it seems complicated.

When a large company is looking for a world-class organisation for collaboration, seeking to control the new company is not a pragmatic approach. The other company is also going to be significant. So, friends let us wait and watch the fascinating battle in the market place.


Let us become an expensive nation

My friend Saibal and I exchange views on different things, and his brother Probal also takes part in discussions. He is a young man, as defined in Indian politics- he is on the wrong side of fifty. He has earned his spurs in the fierce market place and has got a good experience and knowledge of of the prevailing market conditions. Once in a while he also gets upset like any other proud person. I am sharing with you verbatim, his feelings about the Indian and international market place.

The Japanese management companies in India, have developed this new policy of saying that if they switch over from an imported component to an Indian part, then the spare part should be at least 30% lower in price.

I was wondering why? Are we so cheap as a country or as a community? Are we cheap people? Are we as a country, responsible for this situation? Over the years, we have perhaps unnecessarily announced that our labour and designers are cheap. Indian IT professionals charge much lower rates, minimum wages have been horribly low in India, something like 126th in the world today ( used to be 144th only a few years ago ), the manufacturing cost is low in India etc.

We should all ponder, and our next generation should ensure that they command more respect and charge rates commensurate with their talent. Hope we become an expensive country someday, and the costly tag does not only belong to the Mercs and BMW’s.

I have no intention to insult anyone, but the end result has been unfortunate. I will share with you some examples from the automotive industry. The doyen of the Indian business announced years ago that his company would come up with the cheapest car in the world. This was the beginning of gaffes galore. What does the word cheap indicate? Though the intention was good, in practice, it was a marketing disaster! Why was the term cheapest used, instead of affordable? It was a matter of perception. Are we poor at English or we think that we are destined to manufacture cheap cars? Sometime after the introduction of this vehicle, a vehicle caught fire on the road, while someone was driving. The next day, there were photos splashed in all the newspapers. On the same day in Pune, a brand new Japanese sedan also caught fire while it was parked and entirely burned down. But this news was not allowed to splash the way the cheap car caught fire. One more marketing failure? One more marketing failure was the highest version of this car sold the most! In India, cars are bought and used as a status symbol! Who would want to purchase something tagged as “Cheap”?

If such is the thinking in a large company, then many of their decisions also follow the same path. The results also follow a similar trajectory. The whole ecosystem becomes “Cheap”. Now the question is why Japanese and German products are expensive? A simple explanation would be that their products are top of the line products. I will not write about the details of their industry at the end of the second world war. When I was in school, there was a derogatory term used for Japanese toys- in Marathi the word used was कचकड्याची. If you wanted to buy cheap / कचकड्याची buy Japanese toys; this was the reputation of Japan in the early ’50s. In a couple of generations, people started recognising Japanese products as top-end products. How did this happen? Pride, hard work and urge to become the top country for manufactured goods. Cars, Electronics and other products were the areas where the Japanese concentrated. Toyota, Honda, Sony, Toshiba became household names globally. They decided the group of products, and competed hard with global players and beat most of them. Germans were the ones who fought hard with the Japanese. In their range, the products were superior in quality and with competitive costs. Like the Germans have Mercs, and BMW’s, the expensive cars, the Japanese have their Shinkansen trains. These are superior quality trains and are very expensive.

I will share a couple of anecdotes. Someone was going to travel to Japan for work, and he was going to move from place A to place B in Shinkansen. He wrote to the Japanese, “I am going to catch a flight from B. How much buffer time should I keep so that I do not miss the train?” He got a reply, ” From the train station at B, the airport is 30 minutes away. You do not need buffer time because Shinkansen is late only when there is a major earthquake.” I am sure this was written with pride.

A Rolls Royce car engine failed in Paris, and the car was towed to a dealership. After inspecting the vehicle, the customer’s driver was told that he could collect the car at 9 am the next morning. He did get the car at the appointed time, all running and it was neatly washed and cleaned. How did they manage it? Pride, coordination and excellent customer service plus marketing. They had found out that repairing the engine within such a small period was impossible. They spoke to their headquarters in the UK. A brand new engine was shipped to Paris in a chartered plane, and a happy customer took his car back the next day morning.

Saibal, we need to become expensive in our thinking and our deeds. We should have pride in what we are doing. If your sense of achievement gets hurt, you should be able to walk away from the situation. Your business plan should consider such costs. Airlifting of the engine from London to Paris was such an event where financial damages were immaterial. I have walked out of such situations in our software business a couple of times.

Indians are still mentally two hundred years behind. In Northern India, people boast about how they haggle about the price of vegetables. If the vendor says fifty Rupees, people demand it for ten Rupees and ultimately buy for thirty Rupees. It is our thought process of buying everything cheap; it does not make us competitive it makes us “Cheap”. It gets converted into a mindset of selling and buying low-quality stuff. When I buy apples, I buy top quality apples. I choose the apples and then ask the price. A bit of haggling is ok, but if you want a product for less than half the price, the quality of the same will be proportionately bad. When we buy a car, the first question asked is कितनी देती है? – what is the mileage it gives? We do not bother about other specifications and performance. In short, we are the least bothered about quality. All we want is “Cheap” everything!

Till we, as a society, do not change our mentality, how will we get the quality products? Here I have discussed only a couple of products, but there are products like fans, mixers, refrigerators and so on. There is the service industry. IT industry is a big player in services. After twenty years of a good run, they want to remain the service providers; we do not want to make world-class products. These companies are flush with funds, but since they do not have any roadmap to come out of the service industry and make their own products, they spend this money on repurchasing their own shares. These acts are big negatives for the share market. Hence their valuation also does not change- a sorry state of affairs.

When you do not want to go up the value chain, how shall we become an expensive country? It is our mindset that needs to change first. In many foreign countries, I have seen plumbers, electricians who are proud of their trade. It is slowly happening in our country too! My electrician is a superb artisan, but I had to teach him to clean up the work area after finishing the work. Our big shots in the IT industry, who do not want to go up the value chain, need to clean up their cobwebs. They should want to become proud and say, “We are expensive, but once you come to us, you will not go anywhere else!” I have heard the Japanese saying this often!


Live and Let Live- Cry of the MSME!

I had read my first James Bond novel when I was in the eighth grade (circa 1962) while I was educated in a Marathi school in Mumbai till eleventh grade! I became an instant fan of Bond. I am Bond, James Bond- accompanied by the famous Bond tune! The dialogue with the bartender was “Shaken, not stirred!” could be said only by Sean Connery! My only regret is that I never got to see the movie “From Russia with Love” at the Regal cinema in those times!

But I never knew that there would be so many followers of James Bond in the real world! I am talking about the highly competitive business world and the Movie “Live and Let Die!” I completed my Master’s degree in engineering and joined the industry in 1973. Being in Pune, I landed up in the automobile industry, on the components side. I have worked on shop floors, done some manufacturing myself. Later I meandered towards software and consulting businesses, all in the automotive domain.

When I started my career, the buyers from Vehicle Manufacturers (VM) would visit the vendors. Many of them were in Bhosari, Pimpri-Chinchwad area. Vendors were putting their baby steps in the industry, and the VM’s gave a lot of support during those times. The relationship was like the parent and child. The baby steps became the steps of an adolescent and then that of a young adult. But as usually happens, the parents missed out that the child has grown up and become an adult.

With these changes, the tier 2 and tier 3 vendors started becoming bigger and bigger. With many new entrants in India for vehicles, the vendor’s scope went up. Nomenclatures also started changing, and the smaller companies became MSME. Others grew massive, expanded, acquired technologies, started producing world-class products, components and services. Since this was being done locally, there was a cost-benefit. VM’s started getting benefits because of these changes. The main driving force behind such companies was entrepreneurship!

But we will discuss the MSME sector and not the more significant vendors.

All large companies need to have an established cluster of companies both upstream and downstream. It is of no use if the MSME (Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises) companies keep struggling all the time. These companies are registered under various departments and come under the ambit of the taxes. COVID is a significant shock to all the economy, but before that, there was GST and demonetisation. These are visible problems that are known to all. One invisible problem that has been hitting MSME is their relationship with the VM’s; the COVID issue has prompted the government to come with some formal support for MSME. During the other two problems, they had to fend for themselves.

The hidden issue from the public eye is the pressure from VM’s on the finances of the MSME. When global competition started in India amongst VM’s, the need for cost-cutting started. MSME organisations are tiny and have no money to take pressure on costs. There are ways and means of achieving the cost-cutting targets. One is an investment in modern equipment. Second is to seek the advice of experts and so on. Both these actions add to cost rather than cost-saving for MSME; for VM’s it is cost-cutting.

By the time the results of productivity improvement are seen, something new comes, and the endless cycle of price negotiation, investments, cost-cutting continues. Some try their best which most of the times it is not good enough to achieve the targets. This type of continuous pressure from VM’s lead to shortcuts and sometimes cheating too! If steel sheets are being used for stamping, discrete changes in specifications done by MSME during buying, help them remain afloat. But it is cheating, though not justified. It is the compulsion to survive.

I was an advisor to medium size companies and some huge companies. They could withstand such pressures and simply do not accept the demand for cost-cutting at least for some time. These huge companies have the same cost structure as that of VM’s. So negotiations keep going on for a long time. But in case of MSME, many times the discussion ends with a terse “take it or leave it” approach. I know about a product which is imported from Japan. For five years, the Japanese did not ask for the price increase, nor did they offer any price reduction. It is because the large companies budget for five years of projected variations. The MSME, many times, are not even equipped to visualise things like after five years; you will be surprised to know that they are also not organised to think of issues five months from today.

Despite such issues, it is a fact of life that VM’s and MSME are joined in business. It becomes a responsibility of VM’s ensure that MSME survives in the ecosystem. An attitude of we will get someone else, throws water on lifetimes hard work put in by some people. They will strongly resist only when their backs are to the wall.

I have heard of many horror stories. Someone started manufacturing a piece of equipment which could be used by many for a particular process. When they went for discussion, the buyer said, “Forget, everything else. All this is sheet metal fabrication. Tell me the total weight of the equipment. We will apply a multiplying factor and give you that price.” What happens to design cost? What happens to the development cost, testing costs?

I am in this field for a reasonable period, and maybe I know a few things. I know all the theories of survival of the fittest. There is a glorified theory of giving price reduction every year; offering price reduction when the volume goes up! But what happens when production volumes go down drastically? Do the MSME get price increase at such times? Sometimes there are modifications in the components. MSME is pushed to absorb the development or modification cost. Why should that be? Do they really have the capacity to absorb such costs? I have already explained above why that particular the Japanese company did not ask for the price increase for five years? They had already budgeted this factor in the quote given for the first time.

What is the solution for this? Coming back to James Bond- first Roger Moore Bond movie was Live and Let Die! It was a 1973 movie. It seems that VM buyers swear by this movie- Live and let die! But is it the right thing to do? To me, it should be Live and Let Live! A dying breed of MSME is not right for any nation. They provide products and services at very competitive rates and are flexible and dynamic because of their size. The MSME ecosystem employs a large number of people. It keeps the enterprise thriving. Their requirements are always reasonable, and they do not have the wherewithal to fight back. The metaphor I used above about parent and child should be extended to at least let them survive with dignity. We should not forget that out of these small, tiny MSME a few giant companies mushroom. Some of these, though they are small, have an international presence. Given the right environment, some can become very good.

I will end with an event which took place years back. One of the towns in Maharashtra had many organisations in a specific sector of the industry. They together supplied a substantial percentage of components to a VM. They were under so much pressure on pricing, they feared that the sector will simply collapse. A few of them went to VM and asked for a meeting with the topmost boss. He was busy. They waited for a few hours. Then they told the buyers, “We have been continuously in touch with everybody. If you have no time to discuss our woes, we will go away. But within two weeks we all will stop our supplies.” The top boss came out of the meeting in fifteen minutes. Rest as they say is history.

I will not recommend such drastic steps because these can be taken only once in a lifetime, that too if you are a group of many companies making similar products. But the MSME friends need to find out their own method to do well, with dignity! Both sides should remember that it is a partnership. But this word should not be used for namesake. But desperate situations will lead to extreme actions from both sides; after all, it is business! MSME folks think, plan, grow, (do not remain too small). Continuously evolve your methods, become efficient. Do not forget that you have reached this stage because you are sharp and smart! But also do not forget that it is a war zone, all the time. Try to stay a couple steps ahead of VM’s! Last but not least, do not put all your eggs in one basket!

    

To Hell with China- the confused us!

OUR CHINA BEATERS!

Corona, Ladakh and other things got every Indians’ muscles flexing! Ban Chinese goods, buy Indian and be Indian! The slogans are seen everywhere in discussions, social media and wherever we look. Great idea! But there is a cynical joke. A lot of posters, Ban Chinese goods, buy Indian and be Indian are seen everywhere- the only problem is they were printed and imported from China because these were good quality and inexpensive.

Import and export between nations is not an emotional decision, but such decisions are based on hard bargaining to try and see that both the sides are benefitted- and it needs to be a win-win situation. Import and export values between any two countries are never the same. In the case of China, the import from China is always higher than the export to China for most countries. Why has this happened? China has ensured that the industry grew phenomenally. They maintained quality and lower price than most of the nations in the world. They found efficient ways of sending goods to Europe by using the rail network of Russia. That reduced the transit time by almost 30 days.

Can any nation beat China in their own game? No, it is not easy, and there are other reasons like a dictatorship, lax labour laws and so on. In China, businesses rarely have to face legal hurdles. In democracies, legal issues can really strangle the industry. But is it doable at all to beat China in their own game? Yes, it is feasible, and this “miracle” has been performed by a sector in India. But before this, let me share thoughts of my friend Arvind on the subject.

Nobody, citizens, government, companies or anyone else can stop using, buying Chinese products overnight. The government, unless it officially declares war, can not stop or cancel orders or participation in tenders. It takes time for companies to develop alternative sources. The alternative sources will be costlier since China uses a dumping strategy. Being a totalitarian government, it has many advantages as for labour, company and other laws are concerned.

Atmnirbhar Bharat will be successful only if we as citizens of this country are ready to pay more for some products, initially. Businesses should put the nation first policy too, and the government, bureaucracy and politicians should not manipulate things for pushing their individual interests. Only competent leadership can change the future of the nation.

The link below are views of Rajeev Bajaj, MD of Bajaj Auto and Suzuki India, Chairman Mr. Bhargava. They have spoken pragmatically about China.

https://www.news18.com/news/auto/maruti-suzuki-bajaj-resist-boycott-china-movement-says-chinese-parts-necessary-for-production-2670601.html

I am talking about the Motorcycle industry in India. Motorcycle industry jointly has reached the top position in the world in numbers. In the early part of this century, Chinese companies started pushing their motorcycles in India. The “experts” began writing epitaphs of Indian Motorcycle companies Hero, Bajaj and TVS. But these companies were made of sterner stuff. They got their act together, pulled up their socks. And lo! Within a couple of years, the Chinese bikes were thrown out from Indian markets by customers and not by tariffs and jingoism by Deshbhakts. What did they do? They did the right things.

Those were days when IT companies were on a high, after the success of Y2K in the global market. They started hiring engineering talent from IIT’s, NIT’s and all good institutes. The kids wanted to do only coding in life, engineering career was a no-no. Here was what Bajaj tried. They used to get an opportunity for campus interviews on 7th or 8th day. One year they decided to hire people on zero-day. They told the institutes that they would pay three times the salary that IT companies paid. They got the zero-day slot, but to their surprise, very very few students wanted to join even at such a high salary. All wanted to jump the IT bandwagon. Bajaj reversed their strategy and went to the next level of schools. Changed interview language to Hindi, Marathi, Telugu and Tamil when needed. They got the hidden gems as these kids were good but had a language issue. Rest as they say is history.

Another example of Bajaj. Today they export about 1.8 million bikes a year, their primary market being Africa. In Africa, bikes are used as a taxi or a tempo. Bajaj has earned a name there. Before Bajaj, there were Japanese bikes which were superb but expensive. They had a limited market. The Chinese bikes were sent to Africa in an individual box, and they were assembled by local mechanics and sold. Bajaj made better bikes and despatched them in assembled condition, ready to use. They priced them between the Chinese and Japanese bikes. They have ultimately captured the market and running a highly profitable operation.

So, friends, it is doable. What you need is the will to fight, gauge the market correctly. Besides this, the Motor Cycle industry had the advantage of a large Indian market for Motorcycles. The local market helped them volume, which has proved beneficial.

Coming back to the slogan to hell with the Chinese products. If you look at Chinese cars, they are not so competitive in the world market, yet. But since many global multinationals went to China- Volkswagen, Land Rover, Mercedes, Toyota- all the named companies and others have a significant presence in China. Chinese manufacture seven to eight times the cars that we manufacture in India. In India, we simply do not have a market for more cars. Plus we do not have the infrastructure of roads and pollution control. With smaller numbers, we cannot compete with Chinese in four-wheelers. Mind you, China is still not able to sell “Chinese Branded” cars in the global market. But these vast volumes helped China to create a reliable components industry; the Indian industrial buyers have fallen into China trap due to low price. Many international component companies like Aisin, Denso, Conti, Valeo started China operations in a big way. Corona pandemic exposed the errors made by Industrial buyers. I have discussed this with many senior friends in the industry. The corrective measures have already begun, and over a period, China dependence will come down. It takes time to develop components suitable for your use.

It is impossible to boycott China immediately. It will take at least five years of focused efforts. In automotive products, direct import from China is about 10%. However, many tier two suppliers of the vendors from ASEAN countries import quite a lot from China. It will take time to develop ‘non-Chinese’ tier-two suppliers.

The government can discretely ensure that items like Ganesh Idols, Agarbatti, Patang Manja and such stuff does not get imported from China. These items can not be put on the banned list. So the government can talk to the business community and trade groups to make sure that “Indian” items are not imported. For such things, how do you know that they are cheaper? These are imported simply because trade margins are high. There could be hundreds of such items which can be easily “banned.” This is also doable. When Malaysia started behaving strangely with India, Indian government discretely talked to import organising bodies. Within three months the majority purchase of palm oil was switched over to Indonesia.

The main thrust of India should be to push local manufacture of good quality cell phones, tvs and such things in India. Special efforts will have to be taken. Years back, there was a story of the US pushing the Japanese to allow them to sell the US-made cars in Japan. It was declared during the visit of the US president to Japan, that the market is now open. When the delegation went back to the US and talked to car manufacturers, they realised that the manufacturers would take at least three to four years to manufacture Japan-specific, right-hand drive cars.

So it is good to let out steam, but there is no point in shooting the bullet in your foot! Another point is to find out if banning Chinese goods going to damage Chinese trade more or hit the Indian manufacturing capability? The right way would be do it over a period!

Twenty years hence! 

I was just wondering how the world will look twenty years hence. There is a major change going on in the world called industry 4.0! What jobs will be available, and what businesses could lose out? It is difficult to tell, at the same time, it is not so difficult. Robotics, AI are two game changers which are already on the horizon for ordinary people, but for techies, these are already around for some time. Will there be any bloggers after twenty years? Yes, they will be there, but there is good chance that I will not be around.  

So here we go! 

  1. Call Centre operators 
    1. We have already seen the BOTS (Web Robot) operating 
    2. Many times when we talk to toll-free numbers with Amazon, Flipkart et al. we are talking to BOTS. They are trained to answer standard questions based on our identity and our discussion history. Their “brain” gets updated as we call more. In case we ask some information which they cannot answer, AI trains them to say “Could you hold on for a minute? I will transfer the call to my supervisor.” The supervisor could be a human being, giving support to 20/30 such BOTS. 
  2. Automobile drivers 
    1. Companies are going very strong in creating technology for driverless cars. Such vehicles are already plying in certain areas in the US. Amazon is already using driverless trucks to transport their goods. Google’s Waymo and GM are two companies that are way ahead of their competitors. Over a period, there is a good possibility that the requirement for drivers will go down drastically. 
  3. Accountants 
    1. AI and Blockchain technologies together are creating business solutions that do the work of charter accountants. The data entry and the checking are rule-based. The rules don’t change every day, but even if they change, there are methods which will take care of these changes. It could be one profession that could get replaced fast.
  4. Bank Tellers 
    1. All of us are observing this phenomenon for some time. ATM card proliferation is taking place exponentially. People can withdraw money from any ATM. But in future, it can so happen that you may not need to withdraw money. My son Sachin who lives in the US rarely has any cash with him. Most places he pays by credit card. On the petrol pumps, I have seen him paying by using the RFID device for more than ten years. In India, recently, RFID tags are introduced to pay the toll on highways.  
  5. Travel agents 
    1. Travel agents? What is that? I have been buying all my travel requirements on various websites. I don’t remember when I last purchased travel tickets from an agent. It includes bus journeys too!  
  6. Newspaper delivery guys 
    1. Internationally, people have reduced buying the newspapers drastically. The print volume has gone down so much that it is no more viable to print the newspaper. Small newspapers are slowly shutting shop, and the large ones will also follow suit. In India, we are still lucky that readership is still manageable. But the trend of people getting their news on TV and the Internet is already set in!  
  7. Journalists 
    1. When there are no newspapers, what is the need for conventional journalists? Everybody will be reporter in future. The news organisations will need to check the authenticity of the news items. But with vastly improved cell phone cameras, video proofs are available.  
  8. Telemarketers 
    1. Robots will replace the telemarketers, the same as in the case of call centre operators, with one human managing large number of robots.  
  9. Referees 
    1. What will the referees do in sports events? The vast number of cameras capture each action, including fouls, no-balls in cricket, shuttle falling outside court in badminton. These technologies are already there. The role of umpires and referees will be significantly reduced. 
  10.  Assembly line workers 
    1. We have observed this happening for quite some time. The robots have been doing a lot of things. The advantage of robots is they usually don’t make mistakes, and they have no mood changes. They are never on holiday or don’t take sick leave, suddenly. 

This list can go on and on. But I am also going to write about businesses closing down.  

  1. Petroleum Business
    1. Currently, this is one of the biggest businesses in the world. With the advent of electric vehicles, the requirement of these products will drastically reduce. Trials are already being done on electric aeroplanes and boats. These developments will reduce the petroleum product requirement further. The demand for EV’s also will be forced by the need for better environmental pollution control.  
  2. Coal 
    1. Coal business is going to go down over a period for the same reason, pollution. Non-conventional energy-producing methods like solar, wind and nuclear power are set to push aside coalbased energy production. Over a period, the coalbased power plants will have to shut down, along with that the coal mines. 
  3. Law business 
    1. It is already seen that AI can give law advice easily. IBM’s Watson has proven this. Law decisions are based on the laws and rules; it also is dependent on the previous interpretation of the law. AI can easily combine these twto advise customers.  
  4. Automobile servicing and repair business 
    1. As the electric vehicles are used in large numbers, the requirement for shops giving these services will come down in a big way. The IC engine cars have more than 2000 parts in the drive train. Whereas in the EV, the drive train has about 18 items. Only the electric motors have the moving parts. Hence, the repairs and maintenance work will be as good as zero in the drive train. 
    2. The IC engine drive train has parts that are manufactured by forging, casting, rolling and heat treatment processes. These processes form a large percentage of the primary engineering industry. These industries employ a vast number of people. As the requirement goes down, there will be no growth. There will be a big slump. There will be slump in the industry, making machines and machinery required for these core engineering businesses.  
  5. Cigarette  
    1. Now people have realised that cigarette smoking is injurious to health. It is not just a government slogan. Younger people have reduced smoking of tobacco products as well as their E equivalents. It is one industry that will go down, but it is good for the human race. Unfortunately, alcohol consumption does not show sign of reducing.   

What is the reason for writing the blog? Well, the writing is on the wall, but we fail to see it, many times. People who are in the process of joining the workforce should think before joining any industry. Seniors should advise young people based on the information shared.

The list is not exhaustive, and many more jobs and industries could end up on this list. It is a good idea to keep track of such information to avoid obsolescenceTake care! Keep your eyes and ears open!  

 

Car? No, I would instead take the horse carriage! 

You must be wondering what I am talking about. I am saying that cars will go out of fashion soon, and will be replaced by horse carriages. Technological changes are developed over a period, but once they reach the tipping point, technology spread can be breathtaking. Okay, I was joking!  What I want to say is that IC Engine cars will be replaced by Electric Vehicles!

The photos below were taken 13 years apart. It’s 5th avenue in New York. The first picture was taken in the year 1900, and the second one was taken in the year 1913. Production of the Ford T model started in 1908, and by the year 1930, the equestrian age was over for all practical purpose. Such is the power of disruptive technology.

We can replace these years by the current relevance of electric vehicles; replace the year 1900 by 2010, 1913 by 2023 and 1908 by 2018 the trend looks very similar. IC engine vehicles will be replaced by 2040 if we replace the year 1930 by the same logic. Are you surprised? At least I am not surprised. In the first 30 years of the last century, there were many battery-operated vehicles, but somehow the research in battery technology lagged far behind other developments. IC engine cars took over.

The year 2019 has seen dramatic sales drop in Indian Automotive sector. Sales are down by about 10 % in two-wheelers, by average 25% in cars and 35 to 40% in the commercial sector. Is the point of inflexion in the automotive sector reached? Nobody can explain why this is happening. The only sector where sales are doing well is high-end cars. In this range, people buy cars when they want, recession or no recession!

According to me, there could be many reasons. For the first time in the car segment, the number of second-hand cars sold was more than the new cars sold. Millennials would rather buy a second-hand Corolla instead of buying a new I 10. Or they may not buy cars at all and use Olas and Ubers.  According to me, two-wheeler production has reached a saturation point.  Add to the woes of automotive sector, Metros are getting operational in many large cities; their introduction is also a game changer.

In the commercial sector, many things have happened in the last five years. Roads all over India have become much better. The stoppages of these vehicles at various hurdles has reduced to one hurdle, the toll plazas. Most other checkpoints have gone away because of system changes. Because of this change, the turnaround time of these vehicles has improved drastically. Computerisation, GPS and other such systems have helped to keep track of the vehicles easily. Now toll collection all over India will also become automated in the next few months due to mandatory implementation of RFID technology. It will further reduce the time wasted at the toll plaza! The overall efficiency improvement has resulted in a reduction of the commercial vehicles required by the industry.

Carriage3

On top of this scenario, Electric Vehicles are slowly being introduced. What direction it will take is difficult to predict. But it appears that many Metro cities are trying to introduce Electric buses.

carriage4

In Nagpur, Ola has introduced 200 Mahindra Electric cars. Raipur has introduced 200 Mahindra autos. It appears that established companies are coming into the market strongly. Bajaj Auto has declared introduction of Chetak Electric scooters.

Tata Motors is talking about introducing Electric cars for individual customers. MG Motors and Hyundai have introduced high-end Electric SUV’s, with good range per charge, in the Indian market.

So, the similarity between horse carriages/cars and IC Engine cars/EV’s is not far-fetched! Another strong variable getting into the market is driverless cars. Looking at traffic in India, we feel that it will be impossible to introduce such cars in India. But in the developed countries this technology has been developed, and it is said that driverless vehicles will come on the roads by the 2021/2022. How will this development affect the car segment? Consider a journey which costs Rs 100/ today. If Ubers and Olas of this world introduce driverless cars, the cost of the journey will reduce by say, Rs.30/. Further, they introduce Electric driverless vehicles.  Assume that the running goes down by Rs.20/. The same trip will cost you Rs.50/. When the costs go down so much, will you buy a car? At least I will not buy one. There will be lots of Ubers and Olas on the road at any time.

As the battery costs go down, and as the production is scaled up, the running costs of cars will go down. Even at today’s running costs of EV per km  is less than that of IC Engine cars.

About Electric cars, we forget one thing. The batteries are going to replace petroleum products. Currently, petroleum products are delivered finally through petrol pumps. But there is a huge ecosystem which has come up over a period of one hundred years to reach the fuel to petrol pumps.

Similarly, “the new petroleum products” also need a delivery system. The delivery system is the charging station like the petrol pump. For charging we need Electricity- “the new petroleum”. Increasing electricity production is also equally important; it is equivalent to oil wells. Non-conventional methods like Solar, Windmills and Nuclear power stations are the way forward. In the time frame that I have mentioned above, the required infrastructure will be in place.

What about the scaling of battery production? It is already happening. Tesla is in the process of setting up a Giga factory. Part of this factory is leased to Panasonic. Panasonic brings their raw material and processes it, and produces battery cells. These cells are  handed over to Tesla on the same premises, and Tesla do the final assembly.

Similarly, Volkswagen is also in the process of setting up its own Giga factory for battery production. I am sure other serious players will follow suit. In India, Toyota and Suzuki have joined hands with Toshiba to manufacture batteries in a plant in Sanand. Suzuki will make Electric cars for both themselves and Toyota in India, using Toyota technology. Toyota has joined hands with Mazda in the US!

Unless you make your own batteries, the cost of electric vehicles will not come down. Costs will further come down on scaling. But smaller players will have a disadvantage with the cost of batteries.

I am not an expert in this field, but I have been in the automotive components field all my career. So, my comments are based on my gut feeling. Electric vehicles will spread faster in small developed countries like Norway, Sweden. In large countries, they will spread into the market in regions. For example, in the US, it can happen quickly in the bay area or areas around New York on the East Coast. The introduction will be faster in areas where average daily commute distance is smaller; people anyway will have home chargers.It can happen around London, Paris, Madrid, Frankfurt and so on. China anyway is way ahead of others in EV production. 50% of EV’s in world are currently made in China.

In India, I feel that it will happen faster in buses, taxis, rickshaws and high-end vehicles. In high-end vehicles if per charge distance covered is decent, price hardly matters. Total moving parts in IC Engine cars are 2000, and the same in Electric Vehicles are 20. Hence commercial vehicle maintenance cost will be reduced drastically. Once “new petroleum” infrastructure is in place, the numbers will go up exponentially in cities for local transport like buses, rickshaws. Small cars will be initially costly because of battery prices; hence, their spread will be slower.

Car? No, I would instead take the horse carriage!

Oh, my title was wrong!  I would instead take a Driverless Electric Vehicle!  

ERP- Enterprise Resource planning!

I felt that some complex subjects also should be known to more people; hence, I have tried to use the least possible technical language while explaining ERP. 

In my software business, we had developed an ERP called DMS, Dealership Management Systems. It was specially designed for vehicle manufacturers’ dealers. I am sure many of you may have used similar software, and a few of you may have taken part in developing such systems. Many of you may have taken part in implementing such systems. World leaders in this field are SAP. After SAP are Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle et al.  

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is the integrated management of core business processes, often in real-time and made easier by software and technology. ERP is usually referred to as a sub set of business-management software — typically a suite of integrated applications—that an organisation can use to collect, store, manage and interpret data from many business activities. 

ERP

You must be wondering how come I have switched from blogging to share information about a technical subject. But remember that all the grocers, chemists, restaurants, cigarette vendors almost everybody needs ERP. This ERP that I am talking about is not a software. But people track things manually, or they have information in their mind. Every business must know about stock, consumption, money receivable and money payable and many such things.  

When I go to my chemist, he still does not use an ERP, anything that is sold by him is noted down in a notebook. I am sure he must be maintaining his daily stock in some chopdi. Every day morning, he must be balancing his stock book, ordering the items. He must be aware of the delivery time and consumption pattern of various items. With this data, at least with my chemists, it is very rare that he does not have required medicines in stock. Or else he must be overstocking it! It will create a problem for him because he may not have money available to pay to his vendors on time. To avoid such situations, these folks are busy from morning 9 am to 11 pm, with a quick lunch break in between. They keep on tallying figures manually what an ERP does automatically.  

When I go to grocers, again, it is the same situation. Their shop and Warehouse, I am sure, is always wellstocked. Still, the same story will be repeated with him. One thing is sure you need to do is to keep track of these things either formally or informally. Formal tracking is done by ERP’s. 

ERP’s are used by large, medium and small-scale organisations. When the business software started evolving, initially there were separate software modules for Purchase, Sales, Stores, Production, Accounting, HR departments, and so on. In such cases, tracking and interlinking of everything must have been onerous and cumbersome.

IN DMS, when a vehicle is sold by the dealer, its inquiry is the beginning of the process of sell. When the Invoice is created by the vehicle manufacturer, the vehicle is born outside the dealer system. But for vehicle manufacturer’s internal system, it is born when the vehicle is produced, and the unique chassis number is allocated to it. The beauty of the ERP is that once the vehicle is born and dealers use ERP, the unique chassis number is never required to be entered in the system. It is always retrieved from the data available. This number is used to create an invoice on the dealer (Through SAP), to create an invoice on the customer, to create job card in the workshop, to create warranty claim, to create coupon claim. It is also required to process parts orders for accidental vehicles. Any error in punching chassis number would have created linking issue; followed by emails and phone calls and so on! ERP has solved such problems permanently.                   

We developed the ERP for dealers of vehicle manufacturers. We always got our software approved by the vehicle manufacturers, so that all the business and statutory rules were followed by dealers. I am not going to write about technology or technical aspects or complexities of coding etc.

Our ERP had CRM for basic inquiry management for the vehicles, Sales module for Vehicles and Spares, Workshop management, Accounting, small HR module. For exporting vehicles out of India, the system could handle complete inquiry and Sales aspect. A customer suggested that local dealers should not be allowed access to Export chassis and parts. Export vehicles were sent to the Docks by road. On the way to the docks, sometimes there was a need for workshop support. We had to design a system by which dealers were given access to specific export chassis, based on an incident. It was under the control of vehicle manufacturers.  

For a vehicle to be repaired under warranty, it had to be under specific km or engine hours. But in real life, this never happens. Hence, we suggested that there should be tolerance provided for distance travelled or hours of engine usage. There was one more issue in this. Sometimes odometer (it displays the total distance travelled in its lifetime ) was required to be changed in between, during the warranty period. It worked usually, but for the warranty system, we had to store and add old odometer reading plus current odometer reading. 

There was one situation which we named a Mudflap incident. After the work was performed in the workshop, invoice created and paid for; the person would say, “Oh! I forgot to tell you about Mudflap change”. Such an issue or something similar was a very common issue, but we always found a solution by tweaking the design!  

Following two examples are from the system sold to private workshops. One tricky but the real-life problem had to be handled, especially in the car segment. Many a time the car was sent by the owners with the drivers for repair. These drivers would demand some cash from garages. Now, this is a tricky situation. We created a procedure. If the driver required Rs.1000/, then the system would issue parts worth Rs.1000/ in the Job card. However, the system only included those parts for the billing purpose. But it was never considered in the inventory.  

One thing we learned from this system. Users know the use of the system better than people like us who develop the system. One day one of our customers called to thank me. I said that it was our job to provide excellent software. He told me that your new procedure could be used beneficially in engine overhauling procedure. He said, “What we do is when we overhaul an engine, at least 50% parts are reused. We show that these parts are also as “issued” for billing purpose only, though they were reused!” We never knew that we had created this procedure for the engine overhauling purpose — this facility we never provided in the “official” software of vehicle manufacturers for obvious reasons.  

There was a misconception about vehicle history. History is for the chassis number and NOT for the customer. Vehicles do get resold, but their history does not change. Many parts get changed during repairs, but chassis number is never replaced. 

In the DMS for vehicle manufacturers, we had done a lot of automation. Dealers created purchase orders, warranty claims from DMS to send to SAP. We had created a system by which this processing followed a workflow and was approved by vehicle manufacturers engineers. At this stage, these documents were called SAP ready. SAP ready documents would go to SAP at pre-scheduled intervals and would be updated in SAP. It reduced the workload on the vehicle manufacturer’s staff of punching the data in SAP. 

Similarly, a lot of data like Master data, Invoices, credit notes was sent from SAP to DMS. This data was DMS ready at the SAP side and would be pushed into DMS at prescheduled intervals. This data also got updated in ERP on dealer side saving a lot of time in punching the data.  

I think I am going a little too much into details but what I want to say is that the software like ERP makes life easy for users, creates a lot of information from the data in the form of reports, minimises errors, makes everything available live! It helps everybody to take decisions on time, thereby providing proper service to customers and helps improve profitability as correct up to date information is always available. 

Now in the last ten years or so, EV’s, driverless car systems collect massive data from the vehicles. The voluminous data has given birth to a new field  called data science! This is a totally different field as it captures the vehicle data directly. ERP is about the commercial side of the vehicles, whereas data science will purely handle the technical side of vehicles. 

To conlude, I only hope that I have tried to explain the process in as simple language as possible. My friends from technical background will of course ask questions but my non-technical friends, feel free to ask me more details.

 

Recession or Cyclic downturn?

The automotive sector in India is under significant stress. Sales are going down drastically in unprecedented numbers. It is a vast sector and has already started giving layoffs, having non-production days- a euphemism for plant closures. A large number of dealerships have cancelled their tie-ups as the business does not appear to be lucrative. On top of this, BS-VI norms will be starting from 1/4/2020, which will cause further stress as no BS-IV vehicle will be even registered from 1/4/2020.

More difficulties will come up during this year and maybe even next year. The reasons for this is that CAFÉ norms will come into the picture from 2022. There is already a discussion of auto companies going slow on investments, but statutory requirements are mandatory, and these companies cannot avoid them. BS-VI norms and CAFÉ norms will increase the prices of cars. One thing that never comes into the discussion is the sale of old vehicles. It is not that people are not buying cars. People suddenly don’t change their habits. But people become practical and smarter.

George Mathew

I will tell you what I mean. I read an article from Indian Express which was discussing the sales pattern in the industry in general. The data in the table is for two thousand plus companies. The table above shows the business figures for April-June quarter comparison of 2018 and 2019. Sales of AC’s are generally seasonal. But other items like TV’s, Microwaves have not shown any decline. Sales are almost normal and have only shown seasonal changes.

I want to write a disclaimer. I cannot “read” the financial data, and hence, I cannot analyse it too! But as a layman, I thought there is not much difference for these two years. The sales have gone up in 2019.  Operating margins have reduced slightly. Depreciation is quite high in 2019, indicating the investments done in the that year. Hence interest paid has gone up maybe due to investments in plant and machinery. Proportionately tax paid has gone down, and profit has gone down. These figures do not show any drastic changes happening in the market. Companies considered in this table exclude banking and finance companies.

Then why is the auto sector in distress? I have mentioned that people have become smarter and practical. In the last financial year, the total number of vehicles sold was large. But the sales of new cars have come down. There is a secondary market where people buy used cars. The total number of old vehicles sold was four lacs more than new cars. Why is this happening? Small cars like Alto are now sold more in three-tier towns. Young people in big cities want to buy bigger vehicles. I understand that a 3 to the 4-year-old big sedan is now available for the price of an Alto. The trend of buying used fancy cars is affecting the sale of new cars.

I am not arguing that there is no recession in the auto sector. But we should not forget that it is one of the most protected sectors in India. Customs duty on cars below US $ 40000/ is 60 % and above this value 100%. The used cars have a customs duty of 125%.  For various reasons, this sector has remained inefficient. After many international companies started coming to India and opened their factories in India, the auto sector had a tough time. Some Indian companies took 15 years to reach the quality levels of global companies. One company that followed a correct way of doing business is Bajaj Auto. They currently export 1.8 million motorcycles every year. It gives them a buffer when the local market sales dip!

Some of the reasons for the downturn could be that main barrier for transport vehicles like octroi has been removed. The action has speeded up the turnaround time of vehicles  substantially. The effect would be that the number of trucks needed to transport material would be less than those previously required. Another reason that is making rounds is that demonetisation effect causing the sales to drop. Is such a large industry dependent on cash? In the rural areas cash was being used to buy vehicles; even large SUV’s were bought using cash. If people had so much cash with them why did they not use bank instruments to pay? The answer is obvious. Not paying taxes honestly is a habit that does go away quickly.

What was the auto industry turnover 20 years back? How much has this industry grown? The auto industry has made decent profits all these years, so I am sure they have reserves. Pollution norms have been known to everybody, so no point in raising hue and cry about investments needed.

Any sector that is in stress always talks of alarming results of the recessionary trends in their business. Should the government give selective help to the stressed industry? Is such action fair to other sectors which are doing okay in their business? The financial stimulus can be a solution, but such money gets diverted from equally essential areas. We should not forget that high tariff on imported vehicles has helped the industry for a long time.

All the companies in the automotive sector are large organisations, and they have the wherewithal to overcome current tough times. Asking for a reduction in GST is a short-term major and is taking a myopic view of the situation. In the last couple of years, the government has been receiving feedback from business about GST. Government has already made changes for the benefit of both industry and the government. Making changes for a specific industry for a short duration is an incorrect way. The auto industry has been generating decent profit for the last few years. Some things have changed; some new variables have come into play. There are who experts can find a solution and suggest corrective actions. I am sure the industry will come out of it.

Raising the alarm, making statements like “It is the wake-up call for the Government of the day” does not solve issues. But the government help should be an exception but not a rule. There is an interesting story about General Motors and Chrysler. When they were in serious financial trouble, a decade ago, the senior executives of both companies were called to Washington DC for discussions. In the initial informal chat, they were asked if they reached Washington the previous night. The surprised executives said, “Oh, we landed only about 45 minutes back. We chartered a plane to come here.” The government official was aghast!

So where is the vendor conference this year? Italy, Las Vegas, Macau? How can you have the conference inside your factory? Cost cutting is for others. I have attended General Motors vendor conference once in Pune. It was at the Oxford club and there were at least six helicopters used by GM bosses to arrive at the venue! It is not a surprise that GM closed their shop in India.

Autonomous or Driverless Cars! (Part I)

 

 

For some time, I had in mind to read and write something about Autonomous or Driverless Cars! I started reading about these sometime back; I am really fascinated by the technology involved. From whatever little I have understood; I feel that these cars will have higher technology involvement compared to EVs. ( Electric Vehicles) Anyway, making the drivetrain in IC Engines is technology wise more complicated than the making EV drivetrain. (EV drivetrain might feel complex today because it is new) I will keep on sharing with you the information (not knowledge) I will acquire over time. My initial attempt will be a little scattered as there many things to understand and absorb.

A self-driving car (sometimes called an autonomous car or driverless car) is a vehicle that uses a combination of sensors, cameras, radar and artificial intelligence (AI) to travel between destinations without a human operator. To qualify to be called fully autonomous, a vehicle must be able to navigate without human intervention to a predetermined destination over roads that have not been adapted for its use.

The companies which are already in this field are Google’s Waymo, Apple, Volvo, General Motors, Tesla, Volkswagen, Nissan, to name a few! Many of these companies are NOT into car manufacture but are developing this technology as they have the wherewithal! As usual, who will end up at the top in the race only time can tell. There will be mergers and acquisitions. To my understanding, only Apple and Google have the money to manufacture the cars too! But I have my serious doubts if they will get into car making.

Driverless1

The above graph is showing data from 10 companies. It shows the number of miles driven before the manual intervention is needed while driving autonomous cars. Waymo needed manual intervention after every eleven thousand miles, whereas Apple needed manual intervention after every 1.1 miles. It indicates that Waymo and GM Cruise are way ahead of others in this technology. It also shows the safety aspect too! If I have to buy a car, I will buy a car using Waymo technology.

Which other aspects need to be checked and discussed? To start with, I am going to deal with the type of automation that is available in these cars. I used to visualise that an autonomous car means there is no steering wheel, one sits in the car, punch the destination and start chatting with your flame. But, that is not what it is. There are five stages of automation.

  • Zero level starts with humans doing the driving.
  • Level 1 is an Advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) to aid the human driver with either steering, braking, or accelerating, though not simultaneously. ADAS includes rearview cameras and features like a vibrating seat warning to alert drivers when they drift out of the travelling lane. It means some automation starts at this stage. Currently, an automated clutch change system is available (not the Automatic-transmission) which changes gears based on the car speed, without human intervention. Clutch in the car is operated automatically, but there is no clutch pedal.
  • Level 2 is an ADAS that can steer and either brake or accelerate simultaneously while the driver remains fully aware behind the wheel and continues to act as the driver.
  • Level 3 is an automated driving system (ADS) that can perform all driving tasks under certain circumstances, such as parking the car. (Parking assist) In these circumstances, the human driver must be ready to re-take control and is still required to be the main driver of the vehicle.
  • Level 4 is an ADS that can perform all driving tasks and monitor the driving environment in certain circumstances. In those circumstances, the ADS is reliable enough that the human driver needn’t pay attention to driving.
  • Level 5 is the vehicle’s ADS that acts as a virtual chauffeur and does all the driving in all circumstances. The human occupants are passengers and are never expected to drive the car.

From the current information available the Level 5 is far away from reality. It is not about the autonomous system. But the new system will need changes in insurance policies and laws, legal aspects of driving and responsibilities in case of an accident.

Each of the companies has their vision for autonomous cars. I was surprised to find that Nissan Leaf, the Nissan EV is one of the leading Electric Vehicle, which also has added autonomous systems to some extent. What are those?

Driverless3

This button is called de-stress button. When you press this during driving on the highway, it does the following things.

  • It allows you to set a distance between the car ahead of you.
  • If required it comes to a full stop
  • When the traffic restarts, it starts driving back on its own!
  • It keeps the car at the centre of the lane while driving, and this is also done when there is a smooth curve, controlling the speed if required.

driverless4

The picture above is E-pedal. You can theoretically accelerate and brake with the same pedal. You press it; it goes boom! You start reducing pressure, it starts braking. But there is brake pedal available too, just in case! Even on the hilly roads, one can drive with a single pedal, if required.

There are many such features on these cars, but we will discuss them over a period. How are autonomous vehicles going to change many things? What benefit will they offer to humanity?

First and foremost is that the number of accidents can reduce. Accidental deaths will come down over a period. But there will be many legal changes needed. Laws will have to be made and passed by the highest authorities.

Another technical change is that these cars will generate significant and vital data. This data will have to be stored and processed online many times. It will develop a new field of data science. How this will change the car driving is anybody’s guess. Will it eliminate the jobs of many drivers? Only time will tell. One thing it has done. One company in Pune, a multinational, has hired several hundred people to process the visual data captured during testing by autonomous vehicles. The data is treated and uploaded into the database. So, some new types of jobs will get generated.

One new problem could come up. Both husband and wife will be relatively less stressed when they reach home in autonomous cars. So, they will have enough energy to restart the argument which had to be stopped as both went to office! But on a serious note, life on roads will be simpler over a period.

Future of the Auto Industry!

I have been writing Auto Industry in general, and EVs in particular. I will now add driverless vehicles in the subject list in future! I had my career in the auto industry and have dealt with Tatas, Mahindras, Maruti, Bajaj, Eicher, and the gang. I had an idea the other day why not bring the blogs written by me together. So here I got my six blogs;  I combined and presented them in the Microsoft’s new presentation software Sway!  I request all of you to “See” these on Laptop or a PC! If you have Chromecast connected to your large TV, use it to see on the TV directly from the mobile phone. You will enjoy the presentation. Happy viewing or “seeing”!

The matter, of course, is worth reading too! I will keep on adding to this presentation as I write more blogs in the future!

I am not sure how the presentation link will work in this blog on WordPress. Hence, I have included the link in the communication.

I am giving the link for the presentation. If it does not work on clicking please copy, paste and view!