• Anirudh Lamba

Auto Expo ’20: Electricity in the air, but the spark is missing!

Updated: Dec 19, 2021

The biennial event started on February 5 2020, amidst clouds of an industry slowdown, impending Euro-6 emission norms transition, the onslaught of Chinese giants and of course, the controversial Coronavirus. The mammoth automotive industry is probably witnessing rapid changes, owing to an ever-increasing and connected consumer awareness and government regulations. The buzz words are “electric”, “autonomous”, “connected”, “mobility services” and “carbon neutral”. Let’s take a sneak peek into what went down at ground zero including both the event and the mobility ecosystem (automotive is passé’). The observations are purely based on our experience and interaction with the consumers, the organisers and the exhibitors. So, here is our take on some of the key highlights that unfolded at Auto Expo ’20, Greater Noida. Hits:

  • The theme is “Electric and Connected.” Almost all of the key players are parading their vehicles and technology line-up for the consumers to take a glimpse of things to look for and shift the narrative.

  • “Mobility Service” as-a-platform is getting recognition. There is more to it than the product itself (the ecosystem) and this is where the hardware and software industries coalesce.

  • The leading players are identifying, acknowledging and showcasing the need to develop mobility ecosystems to nurture the future technology in a sustainable way.

  • Start-ups and beginner companies are going all-out to display the innovations in the mobility space vying for a reach out to consumers, major players and key investors.

  • Presence of Jio, Facebook and other “soft” industries clearly indicate that mobility is not only the playground for designers, but coders as well.

  • Not a starry affair! The industry has realised that content is the king, finally! (Apart from King Khan who was present at the Hyundai Creta unveiling).

  • The “New” Volkswagen. An industry stalwart trying to break its shackles and reach out to consumers more transparently. It’s pretty indicative in the stall design; new brand unveil and a host of vibrant colours which aren’t traditionally “Volkswagen-ish”. Auto Expo India served as a platform for the global unveiling of the Taigun model (the new urban SUV), indicating that Volkswagen is eying the “Indian Volks” and is here for the long run.

  • Tata Motors never fails to surprise. With a quirky test-drive format and a nostalgia-drawing Sierra on display, it’s no surprise the car company had the most popular stall.

  • Buckle up, the Chinese are here! MG Rover, GWM and Haima are some of the hyped brands amongst a host on display, which showcased the Chinese’s’ innovation and ambition. The technology incorporated was laid out on a platter by all, but here it was seemed to be made available to the masses at an affordable cost. This was the key differentiator, which they appear to have nailed.

  • MG Rover was on point with their communication and interactivity. The showcase of the Marvel X, a Level-3 autonomous vehicle was a show stopper.

  • Sustainability was another much sought-after theme for majority of companies, with Mahindra going all out to create and lead this space with themes like zero waste and emission-less vehicles.

  • Last but not least, hygiene! Yes, the organisers ensured clean restrooms, hand sanitizers and responsible announcements.

Misses:

  • The Auto Expo is due a much-needed facelift. Maybe a new city, a new concept or a whole lot more interaction with the audience. With a dozen players missing this time, this year’s event might have been the reality check it needed.

  • No string of notable major launches, usually a norm at Auto Expo. The manufacturers usually wait for this event to create hype for their new products.

  • The 2-wheeler category was marred by a lack of participation from the industry leaders. However, the Chinese and some local, home-grown brands were out and on display.

  • Using models unnecessarily without a logic to invite and attract the audience is an awkward, dated and an obnoxious concept which needs to be phased out.

  • #Coronavirus shadow loomed over the expo but the organisers made sure that adequate attention was provided on hygiene. The Chinese manufacturers took a hit, with major delegations unable to travel and being forced to cancel scheduled meetings with dealers and vendors respectively.

  • With the amount of technology displayed inside, we desperately needed some of that to help ease the visitor’s entry-exit process.

  • And finally, It took us around 3 hours from the venue to the airport on a Friday evening! It may be a mix of Friday evening traffic combined with Delhi going to polls, but is sure a major roadblock. Thankfully we didn’t miss our flight.

We believe that the automotive industry today is at an inflection point. Although most of the manufacturers have shown agility in their innovations and solutions, it still needs a collective approach combined with a transparent consumer understanding to get itself out of its current rut. The future is here, it’s inevitable and it's more transparent than ever!


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