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Auto Expo Day 2: Futuristic cars steal the show

By Ajay Modi
Last updated on: February 05, 2016 09:35 IST
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Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai and M&M draw visitors with a range of concept cars.

Image: Nissan has roped in Bollywood actor John Abraham as brand ambassador. Photograph, courtesy: Nissan
 
 

Automobile companies maintained the excitement on the second day of the Auto Expo, with top manufacturers like Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai and Mahindra displaying concepts, promising gradual launches to keep the growth momentum going. 

Image: Anand Mahindra, Managing Director, Mahindra Group, along with Pawan Goenka, President, Automotive Sector with Ajay Devgan, unveiling the Scorpio Coffee Table. Photograph: PTI
 
 

The government, on its part, hinted that a scrappage policy is on the anvil, bringing cheer to manufacturers, while Bollywood and cricket stars remained an attraction on the second day as well.

Carmakers looked keen to tap the growth opportunity offered by sub-4 metre cars, which enjoy a lower excise duty and can be competitively priced.

All moves point to rising competition in this segment. Maruti Suzuki, the country’s largest carmaker, unveiled its concept compact car Ignis and concept Baleno RS on Thursday, both to be launched through Nexa, its premium retail channel around October.

Ignis is the mini sports utility vehicle (SUV) that will compete with Mahindra’s recently-launched KUV100, while Baleno RS is a sporty version of its recently-launched hatchback Baleno. 

Image: Maruti’s S-Cross gets a makeover. Photograph, courtesy: Indian Autos Blog
 
 

The Ignis will come in a price segment below the Baleno that was introduced at Rs 4.99 lakh (petrol, ex-showroom, Delhi). Maruti is eyeing a greater contribution from Nexa, which now accounts for one-tenth of sales.

“Ignis is a smart urban vehicle for the compact car customer,” said Kenichi Ayukawa, managing director and chief executive officer (MD & CEO) of Maruti Suzuki.

Ignis will come in both diesel and petrol variants with an engine capacity of 1,300 cubic centimetres (cc) and 1,200cc, respectively.

Maruti’s closest competitor, Hyundai, also showcased the compact SUV concept HND-14.

Without revealing much details about the vehicle, the company indicated it will be a sub-4 metre product.

HND-14 upon launch would compete with the likes of Ford EcoSport and the upcoming Maruti Vitara Brezza that was unveiled on Wednesday.

Y K Koo, Hyundai MD & CEO, said the company is eyeing growth from the SUV segment. 

Image: Mahindra XUV Aero at the Auto Expo. Photograph: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com
 
 

Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) unveiled a concept product, XUV Aero, a coupe-styled vehicle, based on the XUV 500, its existing premium SUV.

The company also unveiled a series of other products such as the Ssangyong Tivoli, e2o Sports, eVerito and eMaxximo, the last three being electric vehicles.

Actor Ajay Devgan has been roped in as the face of the campaign for Blazo trucks that got launched on Thursday.

Tata Motors also showcased electric and hybrid buses while launching a new range of heavy commercial vehicles.

Actor John Abraham on Thursday became the brand ambassador for Nissan, the Japanese carmaker, which unveiled the GT-R sportscar and X-Trail hybrid SUV.

Cricketer Piyush Chawla was the face for Lohia Auto’s electric vehicles.

Volkswagen unveiled the Polo GTI hatchback even as it received flak from Union Minister for Heavy Industries Anant Geete, who said the German carmaker does not comply with emission norms and suggested further action against it.

Image: Toyota Prius at the Auto Expo. Photograph: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com
 
 

Toyota unveiled the fourth generation Prius, the first vehicle to be built on its new generation architecture. Italian manufacturer Fiat launched Punto Pure and unveiled crossover Urban Cross.

The Punto Pure is priced at Rs 4.49 lakh for petrol and Rs 5.59 lakh for the diesel variant.

Image: Renault’s new Duster. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com
 
 

French carmaker Renault showcased the facelift version of its SUV Duster, which, like most others, has seen a decline in volumes due to rising competition.

British motorcycle major Triumph launched three new variants of existing models.

The new Street Twin is priced at Rs 6.9 lakh, Bonneville T120 at Rs 8.70 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The price of Thruxton R will be announced later. 

Image: Volkswagen unveiled the Polo GTI hatchback. Photograph, courtesy: Volkswagen
 
 

Government’s booster dose 

Union Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari, who was at the Auto Expo, invited suggestions from the industry before the month end to formulate an incentive-based scrappage policy. The aim is to promote the replacement of old vehicles with modern ones which are fuel efficient.

“The note is ready with me and I invite suggestions from you. I am going to submit the policy to the Cabinet by this month," he said. A scrappage policy is expected to play an instrumental role in creating new demand and trigger growth.

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Ajay Modi in New Delhi
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