Gloom takes a backseat at Auto Expo 2014

Feb 10 2014, 14:15 IST
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SummaryOne look at the strong participation by auto makers in the ongoing Delhi Auto Expo and the huge crowds thronging...

said that India’s Auto Expo can finally be compared with the world’s best. Total display space is up 30% as compared to the previous edition, and that means that most companies have bigger stalls and wider alleys in between for the crowd to easily move around.

The success has, however, not come easy. While work for the organisers had begun back in 2012 right after the end of the previous Expo, Siam officials also took training in project management from the world’s largest car-maker, Toyota, to make sure they are ready for any emergencies. “The turnout shows that Indian customers want new vehicles. This country has among the lowest penetration of personal vehicles, there is huge potential to be tapped into,” an executive from a global car-maker said in a casual conversation.

The only lingering worry is now about the future. It turns out that Greater Noida may not be a permanent home, and the organisers do not want it to be a travelling show. “The Expo has always been identified with Delhi and the Pragati Maidan. We experimented this time, but we want to have a final home where the Expo can be held every two years and which has permanent facilities. I hope domestic investors sense the opportunity and set up a new venue,” Acma’s director-general Vinnie Mehta said. Mehta also wants both the component and vehicle fair to be held together like in the previous editions, which neither of the two venue—Greater Noida’s Expo Mart or Pragati Maidan—has the capacity to handle.

What the Auto Expo has done is to highlight the interest in new vehicles that customers have in this country, and the fact that the slowdown is only a temporary dip to an otherwise bullish story. It is true that passenger vehicle sales have touched their lowest point in a decade (almost 6% down to 18.3 lakh units in April-December FY14) and commercial vehicle volumes are in a two-year slump (down 18% to 4.7 lakh units). But most players believe that with the right India-specific products, growth is just around the corner. No more will global models modified for India work—this Auto Expo saw a frenzy of compact vehicles unveiled by Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Honda, General Motors, Ford and Nissan, with every company either showing a new hatchback, compact sedan or a compact SUV developed specifically for India.

But the industry understands that only having the right products may

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