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Indian firms skip Auto Expo

By Arindam Majumder
December 27, 2019 10:27 IST
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Hero MotoCorp, Honda Motorcycles, Scooters India, TVS, Honda India, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, Ford, Nissan, Ashok Leyland are all giving the Auto Expo a miss this time.
Arindam Majumder reports.

IMAGE: Toyota's hybrid car Prius at the 2018 Auto Expo. Toyota looks to push more alternate fuel technology vehicles in the Indian market. Photograph: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com

Organisers of India's biggest auto show -- the Auto Expo -- are banking on Chinese players to make the mega event a success as major Indian and global auto majors have decided to skip the event.

This is due to a protracted slowdown in the world's fourth-largest car market.

Three major Chinese automakers -- the SAIC Motor Corporation, which owns the MG Motors brand, Great Wall Motors and Changan Automobile -- will showcase their products at this year's expo that will be held during February 5-12.

"Three Chinese automakers have confirmed participation in this year's expo," says Rajan Wadhera, president, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers Association. SIAM, the lobby group of Indian automakers, is the primary organiser of the week-long extravaganza.

Industry executives say the Chinese companies see India as a chance to combat slowing sales at their home market, which fell for the 17th month in a row in November.

While car sales in India are stuttering, the market is expected to become the world's third biggest by 2026, behind China and the US, according to consultancy LMC Automotive.

 

IMAGE: A Honda PCX electric scooter at the 2018 Auto Expo. Photograph: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com

A dozen automakers, including regulars like Hero MotoCorp, Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India, TVS, Honda Cars India, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, Ford, Nissan and Ashok Leyland, among others, are all giving it a miss this time.

"Hero MotoCorp has always been a flagship participant. However, participation in the expo would require months of preparation and allocation of massive resources, both in terms of financial spend and manpower. In keeping with our prioritised objectives, we have decided to skip the upcoming expo," says a spokesperson for Hero MotoCorp.

"When you are losing money and forced to cut down production, there is bound to be an introspection whether you should spend so much money behind promotion and marketing campaigns," Wadhera said.

Throughout the last calendar year, passenger vehicle sales were roughly a quarter lower than the comparable period in the previous year, according to SIAM.

Industry executives are sceptical as to whether the economy will see any recovery soon.

IMAGE: The MG Hector. Photograph: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com

Protracted slowdown in the domestic automobile industry will have a significant impact on the biennial Auto Expo.

Companies have cited external reasons ranging from high running costs, inconvenient location and poor management for non-participation.

Some have skipped the event stating that it largely focuses on cars and SUVs, leaving very little space for bike, truck and bus manufacturers.

Chinese automakers have had their fair share of fortune in their quest to conquer the Indian market.

SAIC-owned MG Motors launched its SUV model Hector in June and by November it had sold more than 13,000 cars.

The company is targeting to sell 24,000 units of the model next year.

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Arindam Majumder
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