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Telematics is yet to be complimented by road infrastructure

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VoicenData Bureau
New Update

Maruti Suzuki is set to touch the 1 mn vehicles mark by

March 2010. The company has been in the news this year after its launch of Eeco,

a multi-purpose vehicle in the Auto Expo. It plans to increase capacity at its

Manesar factory by 250,000 cars per year by April 2012. In an interview with

VOICE&DATA, Rajesh Uppal, chief general manager, IT & CIO, Maruti Suzuki India

talks about various aspects of the company. He has been associated with the

company since 1985 and is also the chairman of the IT Committee of Society of

Indian Auto Manufacturers (SIAM), apart from being a member of the National IT

Task Force of CII. Excerpts

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How are you utilizing

telecom and ICT in facilitating connectivity within your organization?




Maruti Suzuki is a Rs 24,000 crore company. We sell one in every two cars on
Indian roads, and has dominated the market for nearly thirty years. Maruti

Suzuki has more than 900 outlets and thirty-two offices in the country. We have

a huge supplier and dealer base, to connect them we use a very reliable backbone

of telecom infrastructure. They are connected with a centralized data center at

the Gurgaon plant. They work on a central server and connected via leased lines.

There is different service provider's s for different areas of operations.

Dealers and suppliers also connect via VPN connectivity to extranet applications

and our critical business runs on them. We are evaluating various communication

technologies for conferencing solutions and will be implementing it later.

What are the other technological deployments you use to

manage your business operations?



Since we have our operations spread all over the country and also have

global links, so the task before us is to integrate all the work into a single

operation. We have a centralized data center in Gurgaon and disaster recovery

site at Manesar. For dealers application, we have a data center in Bengaluru. We

have a strong dealer management solution which has more than 20,000 registered

users and more than 900 dealers. The history of the vehicle, the servicing

patterns and other detailed information is available in the DMS solution. For

interconnecting our offices we use various service providers primarily on MPLS

based technology.

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What has been the development in India when we talk about

Telematics?



We are still at a nascent stage. It has still to be complimented by road

infrastructure and an upgraded technology that can be availed on the move. On

road, we have more than 6,000 car carriers. We have already effectively

installed GPS for location based services, and GPRS for transmitting

information. Location based services have immensely helped our dealers, as they

can track the carriages while on the move. In the technology frame, they are

somewhat similar to the innovative vehicle tracking system.

What are the ICT implementations that you have made in any

of the cars manufactured by Maruti?




Maruti Wagon-R had two on-board computers with 16 bit chip for control and fuel
efficiency. We have also got in place engine control and engine managing system

which can help the consumer with details like how much fuel the vehicle needs,

and also guides the user about the deficiencies of the car. I think these are

pretty good developments owing to the facility that the owner can pre-rectify

the loopholes.

Do you think 3G and WiMax will be fueling the demand of

Internet in cars?



Internet that can be provided in wheels on move will surely be a revolution,

but I think it will also be a challenge. The challenges for deployment are last

mile strategies. The backbone is always ready but it is always with the last

mile strategies that prove to be an impediment to overcome. 3G and WiMax will

make the last mile much more connective and reliable. The dealers are also

interested in selling their cars on web. Internet will surely play down the

touch and feel syndrome which exists among consumers. We have successfully

adopted this strategy few years back when we started giving the service for

online purchasing to our NRI customers. It was a huge success. One could come

online and then choose car of one's liking and then pay online. Our aim was to

give the same service to our domestic customers as well. With online

transactions doing well, I am sure that combination of both the services will

work wonders for the automobile industry.

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In the recent Auto Expo many cars followed the green

trend. What innovations are taking place at Maruti in this regard?



Hybrid SX4, manufactured by us, was a very serious move in our green

strategy. CNG is another big area that we are working on. We and other

manufacturers have taken the cause very seriously. Government is also helping us

in this move with its back up. Also PSUs like GAIL are also promoting this

initiative. When we talk about green, I will like to mention that we are very

serious and aware about the environmental hazards. We are an ISO company. For

us, going green is a responsibility. Let me also make clear that green

technology for cars happen at two levels. Firstly, while manufacturing and then

keeping in mind that the vehicles which we have produced are also energy savvy.

Also we keep in mind certain prerogatives like using mass

CFL's at our offices. In recent months our engineers have aggressively worked

with the government to manufacture hybrid and electric vehicle technologies.

What are the various car2car implementations that have

been made by the company?



As I said, there is still a big scope to improve our technology

infrastructure wise before we discuss any high end deployments. Nonetheless, c2c

applications are a tried and tested way of providing security. We have an

interesting application in c2c in which if one's car crashes, an air bag opens

up for protecting the consumer and also a quick alert is sent to the police and

other support for immediate help.

India has been a huge market for Maruti. What

technological changes should India expect from it?



We need to understand that when we talk about ICT, there are no set formats

for it. We are still far behind when we talk about the technologies that are

present infrastructure wise. We should be continuously updating to pursue the

best in the world. When I say this, I also see innovation that can take us to a

more wider audience. Serious investments should be made in R&D as we strengthen

our domestic markets. We have manufactured six cars in the last two and a half

years, and we plan to put our best foot with the most updated technological

advancements.

Archana Singh



archanasi@cybermedia.co.in

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