Auto Expo: Driving towards a green future

New Delhi: The biennial Delhi Auto Expo has rarely focused on cutting-edge automotive technologies unlike similar events outside India.

The 2018 edition of South Asia’s largest motor show is likely to be different. With the world moving towards vehicles that run on green technologies, Indian companies will have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to showcase their prowess in an area where very few firms outside India have a distinct advantage.

The Indian auto industry will look to capitalize on the opportunity and the expo will offer a glimpse of local innovation.

The Auto Expo will establish that innovation is the new norm, said Abhay Firodia, president of Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam).

“The Auto Expo will see participation from 12 start-ups and it shows that innovation has become the new norm. It pushes forward the entrepreneurial drive in the economy and points towards the change in the entire mobility system,” added Firodia.

The primary factor distinguishing this year’s expo will be the kind of technology on display. Auto makers are expected to showcase more than 100 concepts and introduce as many as 24 vehicles, including those running on an electric power train and other sustainable options such as hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, the nation’s biggest carmaker, will showcase a concept electric vehicle (EV) e-Survivor, a working hybrid car model and ConceptFutureS, a novel design language for compact cars, in addition to launching the fifth-generation Swift, the company said in a press release on 24 January.

The expo will also see the debut of Kia Motors Corp. in India. A subsidiary of South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors will showcase a new concept vehicle in the utility vehicle segment. The company will also exhibit its range including electrics, hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

India’s only EV manufacturer, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, will showcase a few EV concepts, in addition to faster charging technology, said two people who did not want to be named. The maker of the Bolero and Scorpio is also expected to launch a refresh of the Rexton sport utility vehicle (SUV) and another SUV code-named the S201, developed jointly with its South Korean unit SsangYong Motor Co.

Hyundai Motor India Ltd will unveil its EV brand Ioniq with the SUV Kona, in addition to launching a new SUV and fresh iterations its popular hatchbacks.

Renault India Pvt. Ltd, the Indian unit of the French carmaker, is expected to showcase Zoe, a small EV, in addition to a compact SUV based on the Kwid and a facelift of the popular Duster.

India’s largest luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz India Pvt. Ltd will showcase the Concept EQ, an EV styled as a sporty SUV coupe, in addition to the all-terrain E-Class sedan at the expo.

The Indian unit of luxury carmaker BMW Group will launch the i8 Roadster plug-in hybrid coupe and the i3s, an all-electric hatchback, in addition to a few traditional vehicles, the company said in a statement on 28 December.

Tata Motors Ltd is expected to launch three vehicles—a hatchback, a large SUV and a sedan. India’s largest vehicle maker has lined up several launches through the year in order to corner a larger share of the market.

Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt. Ltd will stay out of the EV race and launch its Yaris sedan.

For the two-wheeler industry, more powerful bikes and scooters are the flavour of the season. Market leader Hero MotoCorp Ltd is expected to showcase its adventure biking XPulse concept, in addition to a 125cc scooter, while TVS Motor Co. Ltd may showcase a 125cc scooter and a sports bike concept.

There is a definite move towards eco-friendly vehicles, say analysts, adding that sales of traditional vehicles will improve this year owing to a number of macroeconomic factors.

“Supported by a populist Union budget, sales in 2018 are expected to grow in the early double-digits on the back of a stable policy environment as the government has realized that disruptions such as demonetization do not help the economy. Volumes will also be driven by refreshes of the Santro and the Swift expected during the year in an otherwise slowing compact car segment,” said Puneet Gupta, associate director at IHS Markit, a sales forecasting and market research firm.

Models launched during 2017 such as the new Hyundai Verna, Tata Nexon, Tata Tiago and Tata Tigor will continue to drive volumes, said Harish H.V., partner at consulting firm Grant Thornton.

A robust macroeconomic environment, with inflation under 5% and stable interest rates will boost sales even as the rising popularity of taxi aggregators such as Uber Technologies Inc. and Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) may weigh on car sales, he added.livemint