We are fast approaching that world where technology will be sitting in the driver’s seat in more ways than one. How easy is it to get there and why it would be faster and more furious—let’s find out!
On-demand in car services, a personal AI assistant and level II ADAS technology, the car-as-a-platform approach, the software-as-a-differentiator formula – this automotive major is definitely on the super-fast lane of technology. And not just on the front-seat but also on the back-end with AGVs, digital twins and cobots stacked well together. Manish Patel, Senior Director, IT, MG Motor India takes us on a quick drive to show why, how and where technology and business intersections are appearing strongly on its map.
How far has the company’s use of technology travelled from 1924 to 2023—Right from the Old Number One to MG Astor?
Right since the inception and as an auto tech brand, we have always been at the forefront in introducing technologies that have the potential to significantly transform mobility for human lives. Since 2019, MG in India has been leading the dialogue on Future of Mobility with a sharp focus on Sustainability. MG has been arduously working on emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to enable development and application of services and subscriptions to support the ‘on-demand in-car’ needs of the customers. MG Astor is India’s first car in sub compact SUV segment to get a personal AI assistant and level II ADAS technology.
MG Comet EVs is a clear representation of MG’s future outlook towards building a segment for compact EV’s in India. The best-in-segment tech features of Comet EV truly resonate with modern Gen Z customers.
The company has emerged as a frontrunner in the electric vehicle (EV) segment in India. In 2019, we launched the MG ZS EV, an all-electric SUV, which became a popular choice among eco-conscious consumers. This move demonstrated our commitment to sustainable mobility and encouraged the adoption of electric vehicles in India.
Our new launch, MG Comet EVs is a clear representation of MG’s future outlook towards building a segment for compact EV’s in India. The best-in-segment tech features of Comet EV truly resonate with modern Gen Z customers.
What have been the highlights of use of technology in various operational, manufacturing and business, areas—in the last two to three years? Which initiative was the most exciting? Any metrics or big changes you can see already?
At MG Motor, we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of automotive innovation. We were the first one to introduce several C.A.S.E (Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electric) features in our products in India. We also see car as a platform (CAAP), and software as a differentiator, which we now believe that the software will also be an enabler. Connectivity plays a major role for software to become the enabler, support the car as a platform, and takes care of customers’ requirements inside and outside the car. So, inside the car it could be subscription services and outside the car becomes a lot more infrastructure support.
In manufacturing arena, we have made numerous technological advancements such the use of Digital Twin to improve efficiency of PTCED line, setting up of electric vehicle power distribution unit in which a smart station has been created which consists of Cobot (Co working robot), Vision system & AR assisted light guide system to assemble error-free product.
Anything on the supply chain side?
In supply chain, we have started the use of AGVs – Automated Guided Vehicles in the plant for material handling on the station instead of manual labour. Also, in the warehousing area we use Automated Material tracking for efficient and least wastage. FIFO – LES- Logistics Execution system is implemented for Material Management and Movement at the plant. We have achieved a significant milestone towards sustainable manufacturing. In collaboration with CleanMax, we have acquired 50 per cent of the energy required for its manufacturing operations from renewable resources.
What’s the easy and what’s the difficult part of doing digitalisation at a company of as huge a scale as yours and in a vertical like yours?
Digitization brings itself its own set of challenges and opportunities. Having said this, for any organisation and particularly in manufacturing if digital assets are used intelligently, it results in enhanced efficiency in operations. On hindsight, it is difficult to integrate it with the existing system and hence a digital training program is imperative to inculcate and make the workforce adept to new ways of working. As an organisation that keeps technology at the helm of everything we do, we ensure seamless working experience for our employees. From face recognition for attendance, to VTS—Vehicle tracking systems and Automated Attendance, leave, travel request and reports systems everything is managed digitally to minimise time and effort and improve efficiency across every touch point. To leverage digital technologies and tools, we organize training sessions to well equip the employees.
Another issue that most organisations face is Data privacy and security breach. Our IT and HR teams ensure implementation of the highest level of cybersecurity measures to protect confidential data.
How do you enable offerings like MG3- where customers can co-design their cars? What changes do you need to inject in the manufacturing or distribution side—and does technology play any part here?
Digital technology has played a crucial role in both manufacturing and the distribution side faced by the automotive industry. At MG, we have been consistently leveraging technology through our online sales platform, which has allowed customers to research and purchase cars from the comfort of their homes.
From an array of more than 250 customized combination, customers can design their Comet EV in the most enticing way. This has been made possible due to MG India’s flexible production lines and great cooperation between the strong after-sales team and dealer network.
The flexible production lines of MG India have allowed the company to adapt quickly to changing market demands and consumer preferences. This flexibility has enabled MG India to introduce new models and variants in a timely manner, ensuring that they stay competitive in the rapidly evolving automotive industry.
There are a whole lot of possibilities on the anvil as manufacturers are continuously testing and doing POC-proof of concept. We have a road map for futuristic technologies that can be embedded in cars and will introduce them at an opportune time.
Furthermore, MG India’s strong after-sales team and dealer network have been instrumental in providing excellent customer service and support. The after-sales team ensures that customers receive timely and efficient assistance for any issues or concerns they may have with their MG vehicles. This commitment to customer satisfaction has helped build trust and loyalty among MG India’s customer base.
What would the SUV of tomorrow (in the next five years) look like—and how is that shaping in the form of CAD, CAM, lean manufacturing, AI, V2V analytics etc. at this point?
Future of SUV’s look very promising with SUV’s likely to cross 2 million mark for the first time in the last six months of 2023. There has been a magnanimous shift in the technology that was used in SUV’s five years back vis-à-vis what’s being implemented today. From the cockpit to the suspension, everything is going digital with the use of microprocessor chips and ECUs in modern cars. These modules are designed on CAD software like Unigraphics, CATIA and tested on CAE like Nastran. Innovations are being developed with the help of AI and ML. V2X communication is already being discussed by both OEMs and the government for regulations, so it won’t be long before it’s seen in cars in India as well. Autonomous Level 3 Norms are also coming from 2024, and development for the same is in progress.
AI integration will revolutionize driver assistance systems and personalization, and V2X analytics will enhance safety and traffic optimization.
How can technology play a role in creating new segments like EV, smart transportation, AI-driven cars?
The EV growth trajectory in India has been phenomenal over the years. Our ZS EV has received great traction since its launch in 2020 with over 10,000 units sold till date. We also feel that the government’s continuous thrust and impetus towards creation of a strong EV ecosystem will create strong demand for EV’s from across corners of the country.
Technology will surely transform the world of mobility with advancements in AI-driven car domain to flying cars etc. The future of mobility will witness new escapades in time to come. As the times are changing, so is our development in technology. Our newly launched Car-as-a-Platform CAAP is the industry-first concept that has brought endless possibilities to the intelligent transportation sector.
Overall, technology acts as an enabler for the invention/ creation of new products, providing the necessary tools and infrastructure to drive their development and adoption. It empowers innovation, improves efficiency, and enhances the overall user experience in areas such as electric vehicles, smart transportation, and AI-driven cars.
If you could cite some recent show-stoppers showing use of technology, what would those be?
Over the last five years, we have created multiple milestones and launched 5 breakthrough products: India’s first Internet SUV – MG Hector, India’s first Pure Electric Internet SUV – MG ZS EV, – India’s first Autonomous (Level 1) Premium SUV – MG Gloster, Astor – India’s first SUV with personal AI assistant and Autonomous (Level 2) technology and MG Comet EV – The Smart Urban Electric Vehicle.
What next is on the anvil? What are you excited about? Specially as you accelerate towards autonomous SUVs, more intuitive vehicles, Internet SUVs, cars with personal AI assistants etc?
Indian Mobility industry is on a growth trajectory and the future of connected, autonomous, and intelligent cars is very promising. There are a whole lot of possibilities on the anvil as manufacturers are continuously testing and doing POC-proof of concept. We have a road map for futuristic technologies that can be embedded in cars and will introduce them at an opportune time.
Anything else you like to share?
Having said all the advancements above, India is a cost-sensitive market, our experience is that it’s not only about technological advancement. At MG we work towards building a seamless customer experience as cars are more of an individual’s third space. As a premium brand, we feel it’s important for customers to feel safe, connected, and secure while driving.
Senior Director, IT, MG Motor India
By Pratima H