Automobile extravaganza wows India, unlocks new wheels of appeal

Automobile extravaganza wows India, unlocks new wheels of appeal
The biennial automobile extravaganza, Auto Expo 2016, held at Greater Noida, witnessed over 108 product launches, by domestic as well as global auto giants.

Amidst worries over global warming due to increased pollution, over 65 firms exhibited products such as alternative fuel technologies in smaller vehicles, as well as buses and trucks, at the auto show, which was held between February 5 and 9.

The exposition, jointly organised by the Automotive Component Manufacturers Association (ACMA), the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), had footfalls of over 6.5 lakh visitors.

Some of the major participants were Maruti Suzuki India, Mahindra & Mahindra, Hyundai Motor India, Honda Cars India, Tata Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Audi, TVS, Honda, and Hero, among others. Global auto firms like Jeep, Polaris, and Italian motorcycle maker Benelli, also participated this time.

Compact SUVs and sedans
Keeping with the theme of ‘mobility for all’, this year’s expo opened with car market leader Maruti Suzuki India unveiling its much-awaited compact SUV Vitara Brezza. The Vitara Brezza is among the first of a new range of products in which the company’s Indian engineers have played a bigger role in design and development, as parent Suzuki looks to enhance its base here.

The compact SUV is the second of 15 new models that MSI will launch in the next five years, as it aims to sell two million units annually by 2020.

“It is developed under a unique process in design, with a special focus on taste and values of Indian customers,” Suzuki Motor Corporation President and COO Toshihiro Suzuki said. The company also unveiled its concept smart urban compact car Ignis and premium sports hatchback Baleno RS — both of which, will be launched during the festive season this year.

Leading automaker Tata Motors showcased its range of passenger vehicles, including a compact sedan, SUV Hexa, compact SUV Nexon, and compact sedan Kite 5 in the presence of group chairman Cyrus Mistry.

“The new range of Tata Motors showcased at the event will offer our customers more choice, and at the same time, redefine our passenger vehicles for modern customers,” Tata Motors President (Passenger Vehicle Business Unit) Mayank Pareek said.

The company which showcased hatchback ‘Zica’, said it will change its name in view of the outbreak of the Zika virus that has caused much hardship in many nations.

Tata Motors, also announced its plan to replace all its conventional range of trucks —- both medium and heavy vehicles — with the Signa range and the new models will cost around 2 per cent more than the existing ones. The move marks the branding of its truck business in a serious way as the existing conventional models are just numbered especially in the HCV segment. The auto major also unveiled the Ultra 1518, an all-new production ready variant from Tata Motors’ Ultra range of intermediate and light commercial vehicles.

Toyota joined several other automakers in unveiling green vehicles. The Japanese automobile giant unveiled its all-new version of hybrid car Prius, as it looks to push more alternate fuel technology vehicles in the Indian market.

The new fourth generation Prius combines premium styling and enjoyable driving dynamics to showcase advanced technology, and the Prius DNA which Toyota intends to carry forward in future. “We have taken good stock of our priorities for the road ahead and we don’t want to make just more vehicles, but also want to address other critical issues associated with energy, environment and safety, with our revolutionary hybrid technology,” Toyota Kirloskar Motor MD Naomi Ishii said. Toyota also unveiled its upgraded Innova Crysta in the show.

Eyeing a bigger play in the fastest growing compact SUV segment, Korean auto major Hyundai unveiled the sports utility vehicle ‘Tucson’.

“We are delighted to unveil our global SUV Tucson. We aim to launch two new products each year, going ahead,” Hyundai Motor India (HMIL) MD and CEO Y K Koo. Tucson is slated to be launched later this year.

Hyundai, which sells SUVs Creta and Santa Fe, also showcased a concept of a sub-4 meter SUV called HND-14.

Domestic auto major Mahindra & Mahindra unveiled its all new concept coupe XUV Aero, and its Korean arm SsangYong’s compact SUV Tivoli. The company also launched a sports version of its electric car e20 Sport and a new range of trucks under the brand name, Blazo.

“Mahindra is constantly trying to push the boundaries of technology and innovation while developing new mobility solutions,” Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra said.

Luxury lounge
At the expo, several luxury auto players showcased their cars targeting high-end buyers. Tata Motors-owned JLR launched the all-new Jaguar XE sports saloon priced at Rs 39.9 lakh and Rs 46.5 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).

The company also exhibited six new products in India, including the Discovery Sport, Range Rover SV Autobiography, Jaguar F Type Coupe, Jaguar F Pace and Jaguar XF.

German luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz unveiled sports utility vehicle GLC and S-Class Cabriolet. It also showcased its premium luxury Maybach S 60 Guard.

“The GLC and the S-Class Cabriolet are the two most successful products... which we will be introducing this year,” said Mercedes-Benz India MD and CEO Roland Folger said.

With these introductions, Mercedes-Benz will strengthen the two segments, SUV and Dream Car, which witnessed the highest growth last year.

Its rival firm, BMW India launched its much-anticipated 7-Series and X1, produced at the company's Chennai manufacturing unit. The new BMW 7-Series is priced from Rs 1.11 crore to Rs 1.55 crore (ex-showroom Delhi), while the all new BMW X1 ranges between Rs 29.90 lakh and Rs 39.90 lakh.

Bike buzz
Capitalising on the fast-growing two wheelers market, several firms have launched new motorcycles from low-end to superbikes. Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI) launched the 110-cc bike, NAVI. Besides, HMSI also unveiled its 1,000 cc superbike CRF1000L Africa Twin, which the company expects to launch at a later stage. The company also unveiled refreshed versions of four models — CD 110 Dream, Dream Neo, CB Unicorn 160 and scooter model Dio.

“With India having the world’s youngest population, it is imperative for Honda to connect with youth. NAVI will take forward Honda’s fun DNA in India,” HMSI Senior Vice President Sales and Marketing Y S Guleria said. The event also gave a platform to domestic industries to show their strength in the sector.

The world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer Hero MotoCorp unveiled its first in-house developed motorcycle, Splendor iSmart 110 at the expo. The firm also unveiled three other vehicles — premium segment sports bike Xtreme 200 S, design concept bike XF3R, and an electric scooter concept Duet-E. Splendor iSmart 110 is the company's first completely in-house developed motorcycle, since separating from erstwhile partner Honda.

Suzuki Motorcycle India unveiled a new version of its popular scooter ‘Access 125’ and upgraded ‘Gixxer’ motorcycle series. “India is a key market for us... Suzuki has taken Access 125 to the next level with a model change to our flagship scooter. We have upgraded Gixxer series with rear disc breaks... these motorcycles have been designed specially for the Indian Market,” Suzuki Motor India Managing Director Masayoshi Ito said. The company said the all-new Access 125 will be available in India from April.

Chennai-based two-wheeler maker TVS Motor announced the launch of a new concept scooter model Entor Q210, and a sports bike Akula 310 apart from a 200-cc bike RTR200, as the company aims to increase its market share in the bikes space to 18 per cent, and that of scooters to 20 per cent by the end of the current fiscal year.

TVS Motor President and chief executive K M Radhakrishnan said it recently launched the new Victor and the Apache 200, which will be available across the country over the next few months, and based his optimism to ramp up market share through these models.

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