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MG Motor readies for India innings with 'connected car' Hector

Livemint:  April 03, 2019

New Delhi: MG Motor India Pvt. Ltd, the local unit of the iconic British carmaker that is now owned by China’s SAIC Motor Corp. Ltd, is all set to introduce the Hector, a connected car that is also the company’s first model in India. Expected to cost ₹17-20 lakh, Hector will launch in India by June.

Hector is powered by iSMART technology from MG (Morris Garages) Motor, which includes an embedded connectivity solution, maps and navigation services, voice assistant, pre-loaded infotainment content, emergency and information services, and built-in apps.

Since Hector also supports over-the-air (OTA) updates, it will make it one of the few cars in the world to include an integrated OTA feature, according to Rajeev Chaba, president and managing director of MG Motor India.

Chaba shared several “industry-first" features of internet-enabled cars that will be available in the Hector. Similar to Tesla, Hector will have a 10.4-inch head unit—a touchscreen that is the biggest in the auto market in India. The screen will allow the driver to control the entire car system with just a touch or voice command.

The unit will be pre-loaded with entertainment content: there will be ten pre-loaded videos downloaded, a pre-loaded Gaana app with a premium account and AccuWeather which will help the customers to access music and weather forecasts.

The unit also has an embedded machine to machine SIM which ensures that the car remains connected. The solution has been developed by Unlimit—a Reliance Group firm—in partnership with Cisco and Bharti Airtel Ltd. MG Motor has also partnered with other technology companies including Microsoft Corp., Adobe Inc. and SAP AG.

The connected mobility solution on MG Hector is Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6), which is 5G-ready. This seamless connectivity enables the users to receive real-time software, entertainment content and application updates.

“With an embedded SIM card and OTA, the MG Hector promises to do a lot more over time with constantly expanding capabilities, to create a seamless driving experience, throughout the life of the car," said Chaba.

“Furthermore, with the advent of 5G connectivity in India, MG cars will have the potential to add new, breakthrough features to further enrich the car driving experience," Chaba added.

Adding more power to the car will be an artificial intelligence (AI)-based voice assistant that works on the cloud. Developed by Nuance for MG India, it has been designed for Indian accent learning. As a result of in-built AI and machine learning (ML) algorithms, the system will learn and get better every day with usage.

Activated with “Hello MG", the voice assist technology allows over 100 commands, including opening and closing of windows and sun roof, AC control and navigation, and is built to work even when there is poor connectivity. Another feature is a pre-embedded navigation app from TomTom, a global leader in automotive navigation. “All the apps have been specially customized for MG Hector’s large head unit," said Chaba.

“MG Motor’s approach of launching a differentiated model is spot on with a clear objective of appealing to a certain segment of vehicle buying population," said Anil Sharma, associate director at MarketsandMarkets, a automotive and transportation consultancy.

MG Hector also has an app to check the vehicle’s status, lock doors, turn on ignition and switch on the air-conditioner before entering the car. The “Find my car" feature allows a owner to locate the car remotely and geo-fence (software to alert when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area) it, enhancing the safety of passengers.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.