Auto Expo 2018 is now done and dusted with, and while the excitement for India's largest automotive show was prominent, there were many niggling things that we found were quite disappointing. You will certainly agree, there were lesser exciting and prominent launches to at the expo compared to the last year. Beyond that, the food was quite overpriced, and then there's the shuttle service and the planning behind it. But we will, in the slides up ahead.
Number of OEMs: A long list of automotive manufacturers announced pulling out of the Auto Expo. The Volkswagen Group's absence means the absence of brands like Audi, Skoda, and several others. The visitors seemed to have a particular interest in the Ford Mustang, but Ford India was also absent from the Auto Expo 2018. Nissan, Bajaj, Royal Enfield were also not present at the Auto Expo this time.
Premium motorcycles: As mentioned in the previous slide, Volkswagen Group did not participate, and hence we did not see Ducati motorcycles. Other premium manufacturers like Triumph, Harley-Davidson and Indian were also not present at the Auto Expo 2018. Last Auto Expo was full of premium motorcycle brands and hence many visitors missed these popular brands.
Number of concepts: The number of concepts was incredibly larger than the products that were launched at the 2018 Auto Expo. While at the previous expos, several new cars and motorcycles were launched, this year's expo saw unveilings of concepts and future launches. Maruti Suzuki Swift was the only major launch at the event, but then it wasn't much of a surprise. Maruti announced the price of the new Swift at the Auto Expo 2018, but every detail of the car had been known already. The other significant launch was of the Hyundai Elite i20 facelift but beyond that, the show was more about concepts and future launches, latter being the case with Honda and Toyota.
The likes of Okinawa and Aftek: Okinawa introduced its electric prototype motorcycle, the OKI 100 which boasts of a range of about 150 km. And then there was the Aftek Motors' Knight Rider 170cc, Scorpion 200cc, Skipper 125cc, Royal+ 110cc, the Turbo 170cc and the Zontes R-250, which will be launched in India next month at prices ranging from Rs 44,000 to Rs 1.75 lakh. Now, these brands have had a short time spent in our market, how easy will it be to buy and maintain these vehicles? The touchpoints are limited, the service and parts procurement may be a hassle. Add to it the uncertainty about Okinawa's technology amid strong rumours that they rebrand Chinese products also rings a warning bell. Our advice is to stay away from such products for the time being till there is total clarity on the technology and development background.
Goodies on press days: Nearly 100% of the manufacturers gave out goodies like calendars, key chains, power banks, etc on the media days, which ended up creating a chaos. While SIAM tried harder to lower the number of fake journalists this time, it's impossible to make the number zero. Combined with the freebies, genuine journalists had to struggle just to get the press release or look at the product properly at the stage as the fake journalists were busy piling on top of each other to get gifts. Carmakers should completely stop giving away gifts as those interested in gifts are not read by anyone and those read by masses are not interested in gifts.
Food card: The Auto Expo 2018's food courts were supposed to be a cashless affair. However, you ended up standing in serpentining queues to get a food card, and then again in another queue to actually buy food. Question is: if one has to wait that long to load a food card by dishing out cash, how is that cashless? And it doesn't end there. The food was overpriced as well. It was the Auto Expo, not a tiny inaccessible hill station where inflation of prices is justifiable. And then was the third queue for refunds as well. A total inconvenience and failure we must say.
Shuttle service: Shuttle service to and from the Auto Expo 2018 was only organised from Okhla Metro Station, which isn't a major station. The absence of shuttle buses from stations like Noida City Centre or Botanical Garden would have greatly assisted visitors.
(A fire sparked at the parking during the Auto Expo 2018, primarily due to dry grass catching fire from a cigarette) Car parks: The parking areas for cars and motorcycles was ill organised with clouds dusts welcoming the visitors. The shuttle service from the parking areas to the expo was not adequately frequent and clearly could not handle the number of visitors who entered every hour. Add to it that the walk from parking, depending on where your vehicle is parked was over 1 km at times, it was disappointing to see lack of adequate shuttle services.
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