Automakers bank on Auto Expo to drive future growth

Automakers bank on Auto Expo to drive future growth

Whether the Auto Expo will kick-start the healing process is to be seen

Maruti Suzuki is expected to show their electric concept car Futuro-E at the Auto Expo

The Indian automotive industry is keenly looking at the Auto Expo 2020 in Greater Noida to spark recovery from the dismal year that was 2019. The event is in its 15th edition.

There is also the Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA) show that will have just over 1,200 participants.

The Auto Expo is jointly being organised by the ACMA, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Liquidity crunch and the switch from Bharat Stage-IV to BS-VI emission norms from April 1 this year are being seen as two of the main reasons for the slowdown. There is doubt in the mind of the potential buyer about how BS-IV vehicles will work with BS-VI grade fuel, mainly when it comes to diesel cars. Plus, there was little clarity if BS-IV vehicles will be allowed to run after the cleaner norms kick in.

The Union Government’s clarification came late in the year, but the damage was already done.

Hero MotoCorp, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India, TVS, Honda Cars, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, Ford, Nissan, BMW, Audi, Jeep, Volvo, Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo, Bajaj Auto, Yamaha, KTM, Citroen, Triumph, Fiat, Lexus, Harley-Davidson, Ducati and Ashok Leyland are the majors who will skip the event and this might give an indication that things are not well in the industry.

This time, there are just over 30 participants and this is lesser as compared to the previous edition in 2018.

The switch to the cleaner BS-VI emission norms might have played a role in the slowdown but the electric vehicle (EV) battle will be an interesting one at the Auto Expo 2020.

Manufacturers will also battle it out with launches of internal combustion engine (ICE) BS-VI vehicles, but there will be keen eyes on EV launches even though India is clearly way behind when it comes to public charging infrastructure.

The expectation is that there will be close to two dozen electric product launches or showcases at the Expo.

For starters, Maruti Suzuki is going to showcase the Futuro-e electric SUV. Indian auto major Mahindra had, a few days ago, indicated showcasing four EVs, possibly the XUV500, XUV300 and KUV100 and a smaller vehicle, something like the Bajaj Qute.

Tata Motors has indicated something relating to electric (the Altroz EV?) and connected technologies.

It is believed that French auto major Renault will showcase a dozen cars, including EVs. Mercedes-Benz is also likely to showcase an EV. We can expect some announcements from Skoda Auto, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Kia Motors too, both ICE and electric vehicles.

There is lot of participation from Chinese firms, most notably MG Motor, Great Wall Motors and BYD, apart from component manufacturers. The coronavirus scare does not seem to have deterred Chinese companies, who have booked a significant amount of space at the Expo venue.

The major automobile companies are giving the event a miss, and this is not great news for the Expo. However, this a great opportunity for start-ups to showcase their products and technologies. If all the auto majors were participating, start-ups would perhaps not have got the same kind of attention as they could get now.

In her budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that import duty would be hiked for EVs. This is being done to boost the development and production of EVs in India and start-ups could very well get encouraged to do more with this move.

ONB Technologies, Okinawa Autotech, Everve Motors, M2go, Charjet E-Mobility, Sehgal Elmoto, ZN Mobility, Raptee Energy and others are among the 18 start-ups scheduled to participate in the Auto Expo.

This time around, participation from start-ups is much higher than the previous edition of the Expo in 2018, which saw just under a dozen players at the event. The upcoming edition of the Auto Expo comes at a time when the automobile industry is going through turmoil and the expectation is that it will last for a little while.

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