Most two-wheeler and commercial vehicle manufacturers stayed away from the 15th Auto Expo Motor Show. The Chinese presence, however, was conspicuous with the likes of Great Wall Motor and Haima Automobile showcasing exciting products that are poised to crank up competition in the Indian market.
The Auto Expo 2020 – Motor Show, organised by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) with support from Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), culminated on February 12, 2020 at the India Expo Mart, Greater Noida, recording an impressive footfall notwithstanding the slowdown blues. The much-hyped biennial trade show witnessed over 350 product displays from 108 exhibitors, including eight global premiers, over 70 launches and unveils. Some of the new brand launches at this edition of the Motor Show included Great Wall Motor, Olectra and Haima Automobile.
The 15th edition of Auto Expo Motor Show was inaugurated by Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways and Shipping, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Government of India. Gadkari lauded the automotive industry for supporting the government in driving uniformity and acceptability for BS 6 norms. He also underpinned the importance of Auto Expo as a platform that brought together the entire automotive fraternity, advocating positive transformation.
The Auto Expo 2020 – Motor Show also provided an insight into the future of mobility, stressing on the future of green technology, safety and other elements. This was experienced by visitors at various virtual reality and augmented reality experience zones set-up across multiple company booths.
Rajan Wadhera, President, SIAM, observed that auto shows globally have evolved from being mere static displays to providing a unique and enriching experience for every segment of the society at large. The Auto Expo 2020 – Motor Show evoked an overwhelming response with an overall footfall of 6.08 lakh – the highest ever at Greater Noida – enabling them to explore the world of mobility, he added. This is a testimony to customers’ aspiration and affection for the automobile industry, noted Wadhera.
The Auto Expo also featured summits and conclaves around the future of mobility. The most prominent among these was the first edition of the Global Electrification Mobility Summit (GEMS 2020). Held over two days, the GEMS 2020 covered various topics around future mobility and electrification. Various guest countries that participated in GEMS 2020 included France, Germany and Japan, who were part of the numerous global policy stakeholders’ panel discussion with international experts in electric mobility. The participant categories at this summit were segregated as political leadership, governmental organisations, global industry leaders, global think tanks, mobility practitioners and innovators & start-ups. The main objective of GEMS 2020 was to learn global experiences, enhance India’s electrification readiness, develop an electrification roadmap, discuss battery evolution, enable policy framework, and promote the practices of innovation and entrepreneurship.
SIAM also organised its first-ever Automobile Financing Summit at Auto Expo 2020, which dwelt on the needs of the automotive finance segment that requires deliberations from all quarters to explore ways and means for developing a more collaborative ecosystem. This summit focussed on the theme of ‘Making Vehicles Travel from Factories to Homes.’ This Automobile Financing Summit was especially important, since about 85 % of passenger vehicles, 90 % of commercial vehicles and 50 % of two-wheelers are financed in India, thus playing an important role in the growth of the automotive sector.
The summit witnessed participation from finance and marketing heads of the automobile industry, bankers, NBFCs, automobile dealers, economists, and other stakeholders. The first session of the summit discussed about the ‘Current Landscape of Vehicle Financing,’ followed by two panel discussions on ‘Banker’s Bird’s Eye View on Financing’ and ‘Challenges and Opportunities in Financing by NBFCs’. The concluding session covered the topic of ‘Building a Strong Room for Policies.’
Two other related events that took place at the Auto Expo 2020 were the 14th SIAM Styling and Design Conclave as well as the 12th Automotive Design Challenge. The conclave revolved around the theme ‘Explore a New World of Mobility: Reimagining Emotional Connect with the Customers,’ and marked the presence of numerous renowned automotive designers. SIAM said the objective of this annual conclave is to bring together senior designers from India and across the world to share their experiences through case studies on iconic products, effective design process and on role of design in building and sustaining brands.
This edition of the Automotive Design Challenge attracted participation of students from major design institutes across the country. The competition provides an ideal platform for aspiring automobile designers to showcase their talent, and score job opportunities for the future. Onkar Kumar from ADYPU was the winner of the competition, while Sujith S Kumar from NID and Aritra Deb from ADYPU were the first and second runner-up respectively.
Such mini-events within the Auto Expo 2020 provided participants across various levels of the automotive industry to get together with peers and experts. The discussions and knowledge-sharing that followed provided all the participants and delegates with information regarding innovations taking place in the Indian automotive industry as well as across the globe.
Avik Chattopadhyay, Co-Founder, Expereal, who carries over two-decade automotive industry experience, observed that the 2020 Motor Show was yet another successful show if the enthusiasm of Indian consumers is anything to go by. The conclaves and symposiums happening in parallel were a big industry attraction towards building a stronger and collaborative ecosystem, he noted. Chattopadhyay said three clear takeaways emerged from the Motor show. “Firstly, SUVs are the most popular body-style on offer; secondly, EVs for last-mile and shared mobility and lastly, the arrival of Chinese OEMs.”
Vinay Piparsania, Consulting Director – Automotive, Counterpoint Research said the Motor Show reflected the resilience and optimism of the Indian automotive industry. OEMs at the Motor Show showcased their positive intent towards an electrified and connected mobility future in the country, he added. Piparsania was quick to point out that while the number of participants may have been fewer this year for a variety of reasons, OEMs that make up over 90 % of the passenger car volumes in the country were present to demonstrate their new concepts and future directions in styling and technology. Electric concepts of Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, Hyundai Motor, Volkswagen, Renault, MG Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra were the major crowd pullers.
The two-wheeler and commercial vehicle (CV) segments were a bit of a dampener, especially the former, as motorcycles and scooters were usually a big draw, observed Chattopadhyay. The move of most companies to stay away from the Motor Show seems immature, noted Chattopadhyay, who insisted that the expo is more than a motor show since it is a showcase of India to the world.
There was no doubt that the limelight at the Motor Show was hogged by Chinese companies. China’s largest SUV carmaker, Great Wall Motors along with Haima made their debut at the Motor Show, reaffirming their plans to launch products in India over the next 12-18 months, said Piparsania. Among notable unveils, MG Motor India unveiled its full-size Gloster SUV, based on the Chinese Maxus D90, which is the largest SUV to wear an MG badge, and will go on sale this Diwali.
Chattopadhyay termed the presence of Chinese OEMs as the third wave in the Indian automotive market. “After the Japanese and Koreans, it is now the turn of the Chinese and they put up a terrific show in the form of Great Wall Motors, Haima and SAIC/MG. The Indian consumers have accepted Chinese phones and electronics very well and they should do the same to automobiles,” he opined.
There was unanimity among Piparsania and Chattopadhyay that the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus was a bit of a dampener, although its impact was contained as far as the show was concerned. Since the products that were to be displayed had arrived earlier and many Chinese officials stayed away with local executives backing-up the stage, the show was carried out in a hassle-free manner. Higher digital, real-time coverage of the show ensured a wider global coverage and proved to be a reasonable alternative to those that could not make it, observed Piparsania. Meanwhile, Chattopadhyay commended SIAM and the organisers for swinging into action and ensuring stand-by emergency services as well as for carrying out communications on precautionary measures across the venue.
Piparsania asserted that the Motor Show will continue to retain its relevance as Indian automakers will look to jostle for positions and leaderships through technology and draw global attention for their products. “Despite the costs of participating, the platform remains the most high profile in the country and continues to grow as an influential and efficient medium to gain mindshare and amplify announcements and strategies,” he said.
According to Chattopadhyay, the future of the Motor Show lies in evolving into a mobility show, which will revolve around the entire ecosystem and not just about products. However, factors such as participation of all members in the ‘home’ show, robust government support, integrating the Components Show with the Motor Show at the same venue, and participation of high-tech companies to create the mobility ecosystem need to be the focus areas for the future, he noted.
The Auto Expo 2020 Motor Show clearly wore a lacklustre look as compared to its previous editions, but continued to be a crowd-puller as per the reported number of footfalls. The show continued to feature unveils of concept vehicles, as well as new product launches. However, the absence of numerous OEMs, especially two-wheelers and commercial vehicles, robbed the show of some of its sheen. On the other hand, the 2020 Motor Show brought to the fore the eagerness of Chinese automakers to foray into the Indian market, with participation of some of their largest OEMs. High-selling top models from the Chinese automotive market will soon be offered in the country, providing consumers with additional products, thus enhancing competition and essentially providing the option of better vehicles to choose from.
The other key takeaway from this 15th Motor Show was the transition towards electric mobility. The electric vehicle models showcased at the show offered consumers more practical and realistic options to move away from internal combustion engine-powered vehicles. Additionally, the growing discussions on the expansion of the entire vehicle electrification ecosystem, including infrastructure for manufacturing of components and for charging, is making this move more realistic than ever before. Such proceedings provide momentum for the auto industry to adopt EVs at a higher rate than current levels.
TEXT: Naveen Arul
PHOTO: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay