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Mercedes-Benz waits to introduce radar tech drive

Getting closer to autonomous car driving in India, Mercedes-Benz on Wednesday said it plans to introduce radar-based navigation technologies but only after all three frequencies needed for its optimum use are de-licensed by the government. At present, just one frequency is open for use.

The benefits of radar technology are adaptive use of cruise control, warning alarm in case of lane departure and rear collision, blind-spot detection, rear-collision warning and parking assistance, which collectively raise road safety.

The company plans to meet the authorities within a week or two to discuss the issue.

“We have been very certain that we want radar technology in our vehicles. At present, just one frequency has been freed but we need two more frequencies, so there is optimum utilisation of the technology for present and future use,” Roland Folger, managing director and CEO Mercedes-Benz (India), said at the launch of the variant of CLA on Wednesday.

Swedish automaker Volvo cars (Indian) in September had first introduced the radar-based navigation with the launch of XC90 T8 Excellence, a plug-in hybrid. The vehicle is compatible with a frequency of 76-77 GHz. The launch happened after some of the frequencies were de-licensed by the government earlier this year for auto safety. Globally, carmakers offer these technologies on 24GHz and 79Ghz, the two frequencies, which India is yet to de-license.

“The technology can even work at one frequency, but it will hardly be able to reach 10-12% of its usage capacity. There other two frequencies need to be freed for optimum use of it,” Folger said.

Industry sources said though the automakers have met the government authorities several times, but there has been no conclusive assurance.

On the impact of demonetization on Mercedes-Benz sales, Folger said there has been a dip in footfall in showrooms but it was not uniform across outlets. While some showrooms have reached 100% sales target, others have suffered. “We are trying to understand the reasons for it and will accordingly plan our strategy,” he said.

Asked whether he would cut production due to lack of demand, Folger said, “At present, we do not have any such plans.”

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