The 13th edition of the Delhi Auto Expo kicked off at the India Expo Mart (IEM) in Greater Noida on Wednesday, with brands from over 20 countries showcasing various cars, bikes and automobile trends. The first two days of the expo is open to the media and business visitors and it will be open for the public during February 5-9.
The expo kicked off with the country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India unveiling its new compact SUV Vitara Brezza. With Vitara Brezza, Maruti Suzuki hopes to reclaim its domination of the small SUV market that started with the Maruti Gypsy.
Some of the big-ticket launches include Hyundai’s Tucson, Mercedes Benz’ sports utility vehicle GLC and S-Class Cabriolet, ISUZU’s D-Max V crossover and Jaguar XE sports saloon among others. The two-wheeler segment also saw some activity with Honda unveiling the 110 cc Navi, Hero MotorCorp with their first in-house motorcycle iSplendor 110, Suzuki’s Access 125 and Piaggio’s two-wheeler crossover Aprilia SR 150 etc.
On the passenger car front, the vehicle manufacturers focused their energies on the compact sedan and compact SUV segment — especially catering to the Indian markets. Global manufacturers such as Volkswagen, General Motors and even Tata Motors showcased their sub 4-metre compact sedans. While Volkswagen launched its Ameo keeping in mind the Indian excise regulations and the high growth for the segment, General Motors too showcased Essentia — its compact sedan.
But even as the event was touted to be bigger this year, several key vehicle manufacturers decided to give it a miss, including Skoda Auto, Volvo, Eicher Motors, Bajaj Auto and Harley Davidson. Even Tata Nano was conspicuos by its absence at the the Expo. However, the brand claimed to have the largest display at the event and did put up some of the models from its current range, including the Zest sedan and the Bolt hatch. The company moved ahead and showcased four vehicles, including a new compact sedan — KITE 5 and its first compact SUV — NEXON.
Another significant development was Tata Motors’ announcement that it will rename its soon-to-be launched hatchback ‘Zica’ in the next few weeks in view of the outbreak of Zika virus that has hit several Latin American nations.
Automakers also raised concerns on India’s new emission norms that’s likely to create an atmosphere of ‘distrust’ and force global investors to stay away from investing further in the country. Companies like M&M and Toyota have seen the biggest impact of the ban on sale of diesel cars in Delhi having engines above 2,000 cc. Speaking at the event, Naomi Ishii, MD, Toyota Kirloskar Motor said that the Supreme Court ban has to be complied with, but added that such a step was focusing only on a small segment of vehicles that contributed only “0.2 per cent to overall pollution”.
Echoing similar concerns, Kenichi Ayukawa MD and CEO of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) told the Indian Express’ Anil Sasi and Sandeep Singh that banning new vehicles might not be the answer for tackling pollution. “Of course everyone recognises the severe pollution issues and we have to try to improve on it but I don’t know if banning of vehicle is the right solution. There should be a discussion on how to reduce pollution in Delhi and since our industry also has a responsibility, we have to take care of that ourselves.”
Day 2 will see unveiling of vehicles from brands such as Mahindra & Mahindra, Scania, Fiat, JBM, Maruti, Triumph and Volkswagen among others.