IT Leadership

Next Phase of Maruti Suzuki’s Growth will be Software-driven: Rajesh Uppal

Maruti Suzuki, India’s undisputed car leader since the time it started operations in 1983, is gearing up for the next disruption in the automobile industry. As electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids make way, Rajesh Uppal, Executive Director – IT, CIO and now also Chief of HR at Maruti Suzuki, believes that the whole game is going to change and these new breed of cars are going to run predominantly on the IT platform.

“The automobile industry is going to be disruptive going forward. In the next 5-10 years with EVs, smart EVs and plug-in hybrids coming in, the automotive industry will be very different. And, different mostly on the software part of the car rather than the hardware part of it,” he explains.

As per industry estimates, today almost 30% of the cost of the car is of the software in it. It is predicted that with autonomous cars coming into the picture, requiring logics and Artificial Intelligence built into the system, the software component is likely to go up to 60% of the cost of the whole car.

While Maruti Suzuki hasn’t yet indicated any plans around autonomous vehicles (though it doesn’t deny working on one in the future), the company is quite clear about building its future around electric and hybrid cars. And that, according to Uppal, will create a whole new ecosystem of services that will require an IT platform.

During a chat with dynamicCIO editors, Uppal elucidates on his vision around the future of the automobile industry and the role IT will play in that.

Going forward with smart EVs and plug-in Hybrids coming in, all cars will get connected to a central platform, says Uppal. “So, the way you run the car or your experiences while driving or consuming your location as the point and running all services around that will be the next game in the auto industry,” he explains.

Talking about services built around the car, Uppal explains that with cars getting connected to the environment, various software level interventions like Location Based Services and entertainment system based on the customer’s likings, etc. will grow.

This will create a whole new ecosystem of services along with that. Uppal believes that from revenues standpoint, that new services revenue stream will be significant compared to what it is today. “Today we are only selling and servicing the car and that is the only revenues we have. That will change as new services are built around the car and these services will run predominantly on the IT platform. Going forward I see a lot of software going into the cars and a lot of value being driven by software into the cars than what we are seeing today,” he adds.

On being asked to place his bet on a particular technology that will be the game changer, Uppal says that it will be a mix of all technologies coming together and working in tandem to create the ecosystem that he foresees. For instance, he points out that while driving the car one can’t type, so voice integration will be there. Voice means that AI has to happen along with that to interpret. Sensors meanwhile will provide all the information, so IoT will be there. And, all this, backed by a strong analytics engine to analyze the data and give real-time decisions or trending decisions from there. Overall on top of it there will be a strong layer of security to ensure security and privacy of the data.

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