Auto Expo ends with optimism over revival in demand for cars

Written by Press Trust of India | Greater Noida | Updated: Feb 12 2014, 04:19am hrs
Auto ExpoThe week-long show witnessed 70 unveilings, of which 26 were global models. Reuters
The curtains came down on the 12th edition of India's flagship automobile show, Auto Expo, here today with the industry hoping that positivity around the spectacle will spark a revival in demand after a prolonged slump in sales.

The week-long show witnessed 70 unveilings, of which 26 were global models. A total of 5.61 lakh people visited the show, with 90,000 attending on the last day.

The previous edition of the expo held at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi in 2012, attracted 7 lakh people.

"We had our qualms before the show but it has turned out to be much more structured compared to the ones we had at Pragati Maidan before. It is very well laid out here, with almost international standards and people could experience all the stalls in a better fashion," Maruti Suzuki India Vice President (Marketing) Manohar Bhat told PTI.

With the expo being held when the auto industry is struggling with declining sales, he said: "The positive response we have received here from the people gives an indication to the industry of what of lies ahead."

Expressing similar sentiment, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) Deputy Director General Sugato Sen said: "The 70 unveilings/launches that we witnessed during the expo will excite the market. Let's hope that we will be able to reap the harvest of what we have sown."

Car sales in India fell for the fourth straight month in January, declining 7.59 per cent and prompting SIAM to seek government support in the upcoming interim Budget.

According to data released by SIAM, auto companies sold 1,60,289 cars in the domestic market last month compared with 1,73,449 units a year earlier.

Annual car sales in India declined for the first time in 11 years in 2013, posting a 9.59 percent dip, as the auto industry reeled under a prolonged demand slump due to the economic slowdown. Buyers were deterred by rising fuel prices and high loan rates.

Asked if the India Expo Mart here would become the permanent venue for the Auto Expo, considering the positive response from both exhibitors and the general public, Sen said it is too early to finalise a decision on that.

Among the key launches at the show was Maruti Suzuki's hatchback Celerio, which boasts of an automatic gear shift and is priced between Rs 3.9 lakh and Rs 4.96 lakh in Delhi.

The company also unveiled two concept models -- Ciaz sedan and the crossover SX4 S-Cross -- to meet growing demand for sedans in India, China and elsewhere.

Hyundai Motor India Ltd, the second-largest car maker in the country, expanded its product portfolio with the launch of a new generation sports utility vehicle, Sante Fe, priced at between Rs 26.3 lakh and Rs 29.2 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).

The flavour for this year was the compact sedan segment, with many players planning to make a foray into the category. While Hyundai showcased its Xcent, Ford displayed its Figo Concept and Tata Motors announced plans to launch Zest later this year, apart from a new hatchback Bolt.

On the second day of the show, superbikes hogged the limelight with companies such as Harley Davidson, Triumph, DSK Hyosung, Hero MotoCorp and Japan's Terra Motors presenting bikes and electric vehicles.

The glamour quotient at this year's auto show was led by Bollywood superstars Priyanka Chopra, brought in by Jaguar, Kareena Kapoor at DC Design, John Abraham at Yamaha, Akshay Kumar at HMSI and Ranbir Kapoor at Hero MotoCorp.

Sachin Tendulkar also sent the crowd into a tizzy when he appeared for BMW on the first day.

The first two days of the expo, which started on February 5, were reserved for media and the general public was allowed from February 7.

Unlike in the past, the 12th edition of Auto Expo was split into two parts due to space constraints, with the motor show at Greater Noida and the auto components exhibition at Pragati Maidan.

On the last day, the crowd started trickling in from morning and reached a peak by the afternoon. While many left with good memories at the end of the day, some who came late were disappointed as they could not see all the exhibits that were on display.

"I took half-day off from office and drove all the way from Faridabad. I could not enter the hall where Toyota and Honda displayed their vehicles as they closed the gate by 5 pm," said a disappointed Abhishek Kumar, a trainee engineer with a leading automobile company.

He, however, had a lot of praise for the organisers, SIAM, the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India.

"This is my third Auto Expo. The crowd management at Pragati Maidan was very bad and here it was very good," Kumar said, adding that the distance to the India Expo Mart here wasn't a deterrent for an auto enthusiast like him.