An EV Rush, A Chinese Push And Maruti Suzuki’s Mega Show At This Year’s Auto Expo
Indian and global automakers will display at least two dozen electric vehicles besides a host of other models at the nation’s biennial expo starting this week even as the domestic market grapples with a worst slump in decades.
Nearly 30 companies are expected to showcase about 70 models, including battery powered vehicles from Indian and global brands, at the Auto Expo 2020 from Feb. 7-12 in Greater Noida. The expo offers the media a preview on Feb. 5 and 6 before opening for public. Participants include Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., the maker of every second car sold in the country, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., Volkswagen AG, Mercedes-Benz, MG Motor and Kia Motors Ltd.
The EV rush comes as India has been slow to push battery-powered transport and still lacks infrastructure like charging stations. The government, however, is looking to boost adoption by taxing electric vehicles at a lower rate. It also launched the second phase of a scheme to increase share of EVs in shared mobility to curb pollution in the nation that has cities with the world’s dirtiest air.
“The Auto expo is the place where newcomers can showcase their technology and grab eyeballs,” Ashish modani, vice president at ICRA and who tracks the automobile sector, said. EVs is a market where a newcomer can create excitement, he said.
The expo, however, coincides with a prolonged auto slump as Indians have cut back on spending in a slowing economy. Disruption because of the transition to stricter Bharat Stage VI emission standards has only made it worse.
The number participating automakers has fallen from 50 in 2018 to 30 this year. The count of exhibitors, including technology companies, has come down from 119 to 112. And showstopper luxury and supercar brands including Toyota, Jeep, Lamborghini, Porche and Volvo will be missing. Even the newcomer Citroen—expected to launch its first vehicle later this year—is absent.
A few automakers dropped out because they are busy addressing the slowdown and their own business challenges, Rajesh Menon, director general at the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, said. The industry is going through a phase of contraction, largely because of moving from Bharat State IV to stricter Bharat Stage VI emission standards, he said.
Still, this year four global brands will be launched in India compared with two the last time. Menon is optimistic that the new launches will act as catalyst at the expo to boost demand. The industry lobby expects more than six lakh people at the event.
“While luxury brands will be missed, the lean presence will also give automakers enough room to create excitement among customers with more focused launches,” Vinkesh Gulati, vice-president at Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations of India, told BloombergQuint over the phone. “That could give the industry some fillip.”
Chinese automakers will take the centre stage after the successful debut by China-owned British automaker MG Motors’s Hector sports utility vehicle. China’s largest SUV and pick-up maker Great Wall Motors will showcase its Haval crossovers and a few of its electric brands. Its compatriots First Automobile Works or Haima, Changan and BYD will also display their line-ups.
For the Chinese teams, the novel coronavirus outbreak has been a bit of a spoiler as executives from India’s neighbour won’t be at the expo. All Chinese companies participating at the event have confirmed that their exhibit area would be manned by Indian employees and representatives, according to SIAM.
Maruti Suzuki’s Mega Show
India’s largest carmaker is expected to display 17 models, including the new Vitara Brezza compact SUV and the Ignis. Its showstopper, however, will be the small electric SUV Futuro-E, aiming to take on the likes of Nexon EV from Tata Motors Ltd.
“Auto Expo 2020 is yet another opportunity for us to bring forth a vibrant display of vehicles,” Kenichi Ayukawa, managing director and chief executive officer at Maruti Suzuki, said. The company will use the event to display a new design language for future utility vehicles, he said.
EVs In Spotlight
With MG Motors, Hyundai India Pvt. Ltd. and Tata Motors already having launched their electric vehicles, the focus on battery-power transport will increase in this edition of the expo.
At least 10 companies are expected to unveil 24 electric vehicles.
- French carmaker Renault will showcase four EVs, two of them are production ready.
- Mahindra & Mahindra will display the electric variants of XUV500, KUV100, and XUV 300, besides unveiling its futuristic concept Funster.
- Germany’s biggest automaker Volkswagen, which skipped the last expo, will unveil an electric car in addition to several other models, including four SUVs, for India launch.
- Mercedes-Benz, the only luxury carmaker in this edition, will present the EQC, a fully electric compact SUV unveiled in December.