Swelling crowds pep up automobile sector's sentiment

Swelling crowds pep up automobile sector's sentiment

India’s 11th Auto Expo may have thrown the traffic out of gear on the busiest of Delhi roads, prompting organisers to consider a change in the venue from next year, but it is certainly good news for the auto industry, which can hope for a revival in demand, which has dropped due to high interest rates and soaring fuel prices.

The 11th Auto Expo co-hosted by SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers), CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) and ACMA (Automotive Component Manufacturers Association) kicked off at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi on January 5 and is on till January 11.

The number of visitors has swollen so much that the organisers have restricted entry to only 70,000 people in a day. The ticket counters are always full of people and around 15,000 tickets have already been sold through internet.
Kaul, however, opines that crowd management continues to be a challenge for organisers of the show.

“It is just like Kumbh Mela,” CII Trade Fair Council Chairman Rajive Kaul said. The challenge is to manage the high visitor levels keeping in mind the infrastructural constraints that the trade fair grounds has. Kaul also said that organisers are considering increasing the duration of the event by a couple of days more.

Confederation of Indian Industries Director General Chandrajit Banerjee said despite reducing the number of exhibitors from 1,500 this year from 2,100 in 2010, there is no space for visitors to move around and no let up in the crowd.

“Wow! What a response. Even though visitors may be inconvenienced, in a slowing economy such keen interest and enthusiasm by visitors augurs well for the economy. I do hope that this will reflect in industry sales and growth of the Indian Automotive industry,” Hero MotoCorp Joint Managing Director Sunil Kant Munjal said.

“The crowds represent very high aspirational level of the people of India and it also truly reflects the demographics of the country with lots of young people,” Tractors & Farm Equipment Limited Chairman & CEO Mallika Srinivasan said.

In India, auto sales have taken a hit due to uncertainty in economic environment coupled with talk of job cuts and poor increments in the past many months. The rise in interest rates as many as 13 in the past two years as also soaring petrol prices have deterred prospective car buyers in the recent times.

Lessons learnt

Kaul said the lesson learnt from the experience this time is that one day should be reserved strictly for the media and exhibitors and no extra passes should be given out for that day.

The organisers have already taken several steps to make it easier for all the stakeholders of the show, he claimed.

“In the past, we had never put a cap on the number of visitors, but this  time we have put a restriction of one lakh people, including 30,000 people from the exhibitors’ list and support staff,” he said.

Even the exhibition space this time has been reduced to create 10,000 square metres of free space for people to walk around. Furthermore, the number of exhibitors has been reduced to 1,500 from 2,100 in 2010, he said.

Man Force Trucks unveils Man Airobus

Commercial vehicle maker Man Force Trucks announced its foray into the bus segment. The company is eyeing a 50 per cent jump in overall sales at 6,000 units this year.

The company, which launched Man Airobus at the 11th Auto Expo here, said bookings for the Rs 60 lakh priced-bus have already started and it plans to sell around 250 units by the year-end.

“Entering into the bus segment is an extension of our product portfolio as we try to become a full scale commercial vehicle manufacturer. The bus segment is a growing market in India,” Managing Director Sudhir Mehta told PTI.

He said the ‘Airobus’ is placed in the market between the premium bus and rear-engine bus. The new product is a 45 seater inter-city air-conditioned coach powered by 220hp diesel engine. It is being manufactured at the company’s facility at Pithampur in Madhya Pradesh, where it has production capacity to make 24,000 trucks a year.

Besides, the company said it has lined up three-four trucks to be launched this year.

Toyota displays its new Prius

Japanese car maker Toyota launched a new version of its hybrid sedan Prius in India priced between Rs 27.39 lakh and Rs 29.41 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The new Prius will have solar ventilation system in addition to the exiting battery technology, Toyota Kirlosakar Motor (TKM) Deputy Managing Director (Commercial) Shekar Viswanathan said.

Besides the new Prius, TKM launched a specially designed seat for Corolla Altis for passenger having leg and knee problems. The product — Easy Seat — will be available as a retro-fitted accessory and is priced at Rs 29,979.

“The Easy Seat has a mechanism that enables the seat to swivel and slide. It can be slid and turned with ease, allowing easy entry and exit for those with special mobility needs,” TKM GM (Marketing Division) R K Ramesh said.

Paccar to tap India for global operations

 US-based truck maker Paccar is looking to tap India for component sourcing and developing technology for its global operations.

The company has already set up a technical centre in Pune in collaboration with technology solutions company KPIT Cummins Infosystems Ltd and plans to hire at least 200 employees by the year-end. Paccar Inc Managing Director (India Initiative) Donald J Schulte told reporters that “we have started contact with suppliers here and work at technical centre has also begun. By end of this year we will hire 200 employees.”

Paccar is showcasing its DAF CF truck equipped with 180 hp engine. It manufactures and markets light, medium & heavy trucks under Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF brands. 

 

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