The Auto Expo ever since its inception in 1986 slowly turned into the centre piece of the Indian automotive industry. And in theory it was to be exactly that, it provided all manufacturer two-wheeler, four-wheeler and even commercial vehicle manufacturers a unified platform on which to showcase their latest concepts and upcoming models. And in its eleven editions thus far it has been exactly that, over the years the Auto Expo has been the pulse of the industry charting the entire industry’s path forward. However, with the 2018 Auto Expo fast approaching on the horizon more and more auto-manufacturers are choosing to skip this all important event, as of yesterday, a staggering total of 32-Indian automotive manufacturers backing out. Bajaj Auto, Jaguar Land Rover, the Volkswagen group (which include Volkswagen, Skoda, Audi, Ducati, MAN, Scania, Porsche and Lamborghini) , Harley Davidson, Ford, Ashok Leyland and Nissan have all announced that they will not be a part of this years expo. Now while for the organisers of this means a monetary setback of around 300 crores, the big question that remain is why.
Now the internet has an array of different answers from affordability to lack of sturdy platform for motorcycle and Commercial Vehicle manufacturers. The truth might be a summation of all of these points, all leading to a bad return on the 10-crore investment, that is required on the part of a manufacturer to participate at the expo. Now this might sound strange considering that the Auto Industry continues to show strong year on year growth, with most manufacturers churning out profits ten-fold of the required budget for the expo, and Indian auto-manufacturers have never been shy in terms of budgets in the past. The problem, as we see it stems from the way information is passed in the digital age. In terms of digital media houses, the early bird gets the worm, traffic goes to the guy who publishes the story first and any announcements or showcases made at the autoexpo are likely to be lost in a sea of content that will flow fast and free over the duration of the expo. This is where the auto-expo gets slightly diluted in terms of raw ROI. Most auto manufacturers would rather wait for the auto-expo to get over, and have the media attend a stand alone event which will not just be cheaper, but is also likely to have more of an impact.
Of course 10 crores is an optimistic budget, if a celebrity is involved these costs are likely to be 8-10 crores surplus. Moneycontrol reports that these cost could go up to almost 30 crores in some cases. In comparison to that, a press event at a star-hotel prior to the AutoExpo might set an auto manufacturer back by a maximum of 50 lakh. Not only do they get exclusive coverage without having to fight the competition for eye-balls, but at a fraction of the cost. However, while some have chosen to denounce tradition, Manufacturers like Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Tata Motors, Mahindra, Honda, Renault, Mercedes, BMW, TVS, Hero, Honda and Yamaha will carry the tradition forward along with a few new and exciting faces like Kia and Kawasaki, both of which will be at the expo for the first time.