Car infotainment leader Harman sees India as its potential market. In an email interview, Prathab Deivanayagham– Senior Director, Connected Car India, HARMAN International Indi, explains to Jaishankar Jayaramiah of Automotive India News about Harman’s strategy for the Indian market.
How does HARMAN see India as its potential market?
The automotive industry in India is one of the largest in the world. It witnessed a remarkable growth over the past three decades and poised to become the 4th largest automotive market by 2025. Almost all auto-component manufacturers are rolling out new platforms and products, to drive this growth. More and more consumers are becoming comfortable adopting smartphone-based connectivity solutions, leading to an increase in the Infotainment take rates. The automotive sector in India, presents a significant opportunity to be one of the biggest growth drivers for the economy and we see a sizeable potential in this market in the coming years.
Can you specify few of your products that were well received in the Indian market?
The HARMAN Touch screen infotainment systems launched for TATA Zest and Bolt, were very well received in the Indian market. These had features such as Voice Recognition, voice based climate controls, etc. – which were seen first time in this segment and became instantly popular with the consumers. We were also recognized at the CNBC-Overdrive TV18 awards as the Product of the Year.
The entry radio we launched in TATA Tiago is another success story. It offers a smartphone based navigation guidance through turn-by-turn visual & voice alerts, better user experience via bigger display and flow of functionalities. This again is a segment first because a typical entry radio found in the market only offers a single-line segmented display with not much of additional features. Combined with Harman’s expertise in creating unique sound solutions, we have taken the in-car music experience to a new level, for an entry segment hatch.
What is the size of infotainment market in India and its future?
OEM fitted Infotainment market in India is estimated to be about $ 150 million per annum and is estimated to be doubled in the next 3 ~ 4 years. This is driven by increasing OEM fitted Display Radios with 7” / 8” touchscreens, smartphone connectivity with Apple Carplay/ Android Auto and rear seat entertainment systems.
Can you detail about your presence in the Indian infotainment market with supporting statistics?
Today we have more than 25 million automobiles on the road equipped with HARMAN audio and connected car systems. Our software services power billions of mobile devices and systems that are connected, integrated and secure across all platforms, from work and home to car and mobile.
In India, we have been partnered with leading OEMs since 2014.Our systems are used in a range of cars –starting from entry hatch to entry sedans, sedans and MUVs. HARMAN also has a line-up of interesting projects, which will hit the market between 2017 and 2019. We have the capacity to roll out more than half a million infotainment units per annum.
How do you see India as compared to other developed European and North American markets in adopting latest connected car technologies?
Unlike the past where infotainment was part of only high end cars and/or top trims, nowadays the adoption rate of these technologies have increased significantly. You can see entry hatches sporting touchscreen systems with connectivity. India is rapidly evolving to be a follower of the west and in the coming years, we are likely to see some technological launches which are parallel to some of these mature foreign markets.In this process, we may be skipping a few generations and launching the latest technologies relevant for the market.
India is not too far behind these developed markets. In 2015, we saw the Asia-Pacific region breaking into the automotive strongholds of North America and Europe. This was largely due to the rapid pace of growth seen in the developing economies in China, India, and Indonesia.
Can you please detail the difference and parallelism between car audio and infotainment?
Infotainment is about the media, connectivity, navigation, the touch and user experience part of the system and Car Audio is all about the quality of the sound. These terms are often conveniently interchanged.
Infotainment, historically referred to as car audio, is evolving into a connected car device, beyond a music player. Infotainment also aids enhance acoustics, by providing sound staging, individual sound zones, etc. Slowly, there is an increased awareness about the need for an infotainment paired with a good audio system. In India as well as in global markets, we see that the Car Entertainment system has completely transformed into Infotainment system in the last few years.
Tiago is a good example where we received appreciations from market on the audio system. Hexa launched with a 10 speaker JBL Branded audio is another example of consumers looking for premium sound experience, along with a connected infotainment system.
Infotainment systems are now more than music players. What does the future of this segment look like?
The trend of connected car and autonomous driving is transforming the cockpit electronics landscape in vehicles. Standalone infotainment systems are driver centric and deliver only on information and entertainment. Such mono purpose systems are making way for a multi-purpose integrated cockpit solution, where a central controller powers and controls multiple functions such as Infotainment, Cluster, Central Display, HuD, Electronic Mirrors, Mood Lighting, Multi-modal HMI, Digital Assistant and Acoustics. Such system integration represents the future of connector cars as it provides cost and complexity reduction for the carmakers. For the consumers it means seamless user experience across the cockpit, not only for the driver but also for the other passengers in the vehicle.
What are the current in-car infotainment trends in India?
The global Infotainment or connected car trends can generally be classified into – Entertainment, Information, Connectivity, Regulatory, Safety, ADAS, User experience, Acoustic and Cockpit Integration. We are seeing traction in every trend in India but in varying degrees.
Today we see a clear growth trend for Display Audio segment, which primarily focuses on display sizes, rich HMI, and connectivity with Smartphone and App ecosystem.
The other growing trend is that of Telematics. Every OEM has a Telematics roadmap catering to the end customer demands for information, analytics, safety & connectivity.
The next trend is about safety and regulatoryterms for better driver assistance. This is accomplished through rear view camera, front and rear parking sensor integration into Infotainment etc.
The joint-development that HARMAN is carrying out with automotive OEMs and suppliers. Please provide some details here
HARMAN automotive is now into its 10th year of existence in India. We have forged partnerships with several leading OEMs in India to supply factory fitted equipment in areas such as Infotainment and Acoustics. We are working continuously to expand our local footprint and local supplier base. We drive the technologies from our global platforms yet remain innovative in terms of tailor-made functionalities suitable for the Indian market.
Our local manufacturing plant dedicated to the production of high-end infotainment systems, coupled with our 8000 strong engineering R&D workforce, one-of-a-kind Acoustic tuning lab and pan India after sales service network – are testimony to our commitment to this market.
Please tell about the HARMAN audio system in TATA’s latest offerings – the TATA Hexa and Tiago
HARMAN infotainment systems supplied to Tata Motors are award winning products and trendsetters in their own way. Our Display Audio systems, with home grown Smartphone connectivity solutions such as Turn by Turn Navigation and custom tuned acoustic experience in the Tata Tiago is an industry first for that segment. The smartphone projected Navigation & voice controlled climate & Mood lighting controls are unique features in Tata Zest and Hexa.
HARMAN is also a house of legendary brands in acoustics. Tata Hexa features JBL, a popular brand from HARMAN, in form of a 10-speaker audio system. All these vehicles have undergone custom acoustic tuning in our local acoustic engineering centres, under the supervision of our expert sound engineers to provide the best signature sound for each vehicle.
How connected vehicle technology is changing the infotainment industry
Vehicles are getting connected through the embedded Telematic control units or through connected infotainment units. The connectivity & communication can be in form of vehicle to device, cloud and infrastructure. However, the core transformative technology behind all this is the wireless technologyprovided by Bluetooth, WiFi and the continuously improving cellular networks. The democratization of these technologies and their improved specifications enable Infotainment systems to connect to the world and to the devices around them, thereby making the connected vehicles a part of the bigger network called the Internet of Things (IoT)! Use cases such as heart rate monitoring while driving, connected car controlling devices in your home and several others will evolve – permanently transforming our understanding of Infotainment today and making it ubiquitous and part of our digital lives.
The safety aspect of connected vehicles – how secure are these automobiles?
The connected cars with Telematics or Infotainment systems, have to be secured at several levels – hardware, software and connectivity mediums, both wired and wireless. This is how these devices connect to rest of the world. A security framework can be measured on the merit of its ability to Prevent, Detect and then Correct the security risk. With this principal in mind, we at Harman have devised a “5+1” layered security architecture for our systems. This security framework secures our systems at all levels and the “+1” represents HARMAN Secure Over the Air update solution, which can fix the issues found in our systems through software updates sent over the air to the vehicles. This 5+1 security solution also consists of our industry leading security products such as TCU-Shield and ECU-Shield.
How has HARMAN contributed to the connected cars and connected services industry?
HARMAN is an industry leader in connected car and services and has been a pioneer in deploying several such connected technologies. We have provided a number of segment-first solutions through our infotainment systems in TATA Zest, Bolt, Tiago and Hexa.
HARMAN had acquired companies such as AHA, SymphonyTeleca, TowerSec, RedBend in the last few years and has led to creation of a division called HARMAN Connected Services which provides high end engineering services in the domain of connected car, mobile, etc. We have the unique advantage of being strong on product as well as services delivery for connected cars.
What are the challenges which are likely to arise in the connected car technology segment?
As discussed above, ensuring safety and security of the connected vehicles will remain the most important challenge in this industry. We have to keep in mind the changing regulatory framework too. Automotive technology needs to keep pace with the fast changing technology on device, cloud and connectivity. In India, the busy chaotic roads and poor connectivity will be a few major challenges for the country’s connected car segment. Seamless and secure interface with the cloud and infrastructure is the key to success.
What kind of research activities are undertaken by HARMAN in India?
We have 8000+ strong R&D workforce in India, majority of which are engineers focused on serving the local and global Infotainment, Telematics and Acoustic programs. HARMAN India is one of the global hubs for Centre of Competencies catering to global development needs, in areas of connectivity, software platform and integrated cockpits. In the near future, HARMAN will be focused on complete digitization of the car cockpit, shifting towards smartphone connectivity and transforming from analog to digital
What is the roadmap ahead for HARMAN in India?
We have steadily grown our footprint and market presence in India. We are well placed, to tap the opportunities in India market, with our end-to-end footprint in engineering, manufacturing and after sales. We have a unique position to offer a complete in-car connected user experience through our strong connected car & car audio technology leadership.