India’s biggest auto show began this week in the suburbs of New Delhi. The event amounts to public relations, but is important for the 1,500 companies that show up, all of which want a piece of what likely will be the third-largest passenger car market by 2020. The new launches and displays also tell us what companies think are the latest consumer preferences and what the upcoming trends will be. Here’s what hot at Auto Expo 2016:
Going Green: Automakers know that the air quality in New Delhi and other Indian cities is getting worse, and that failing to show off their “green” credentials could mean poor PR and lower sales if government authorities start cracking down on emissions standards and car design to clean things up. From Tata Motors to Mahindra and Mahindra, most major companies unveiled battery or hybrid models. “I see electric mobility becoming the new norm even in India,” said Arvind Mathew, CEO of Mahindra Reva, which manufactures electric vehicles.
Rising income and the government’s push for safer vehicles with more features mean demand will grow for something nicer than a no-frills hatchback. In India, that could be the compact SUV. “These are lower-priced, convenient for customers to use and give all the benefit of SUVs. Many customers would rather have a compact SUV than a hatchback or a premium hatchback,” said Pawan Goenka, executive director at Mahindra and Mahindra. Maruti, the country’s biggest carmaker by sales, which dominates the entry-level segment, launched its first compact SUV at the expo on Wednesday. Hyundai, the number two player, also showcased the concept of a compact SUV it plans to launch in 2017.
India’s auto show participants seem to prefer fair-skinned foreign models. This “creates a lot of glamour. It started as a tradition, which has now become a necessity,” said the official in charge of the Toyota stall at the expo. He refused to give his name as he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the company. “Now you see a mixtures of hostesses. Some years ago, there were only Indians.”
— David Lalmalsawma (@davidlms25) February 5, 2016