New Delhi: The Delhi Auto Expo, South Asia’s largest, that is being held for the first time at a new venue at Greater Noida, has drawn admiring feedback from the heads of rival auto shows and even positive comparisons with similar events organized in Geneva, Tokyo and Frankfurt.
Toyokazu Ishida, director general of the Tokyo Motor Show, and Thierry Hessy, an organizer of the Paris Motor Show, were among the people who were impressed.
“The feedback that came out from them was very pleasant,” said an industry executive who works with these two organizers on various auto shows. “They were visibly impressed.” He requested anonymity.
With the unveiling of around 40 new cars and two-wheelers being squeezed into a single day at the sparkling new venue, the biennial Delhi Auto Expo can now aspire to join the leagues of top global motor shows held in Tokyo, Geneva and Frankfurt.
The Greater Noida venue also received strong positive responses on its opening day from the visiting officials of global car makers. An additional 30 products are expected to be unveiled on Thursday, the second day of the seven-day event. Out of the total 70, more than 26 vehicles, including 15 cars, will be unveiled for the first time globally at the Delhi Auto Expo.
“This is my first time here. I am impressed,” said Toshihiro Suzuki, executive vice-president of Suzuki Motor Corp. Toshihiro Suzuki is the son of Suzuki chairman Osamu Suzuki.
“Yet, there is scope for a lot of improvement,” Suzuki said.
The praise from rival organizers and participating companies are a pleasant departure from the previous edition in 2012 when the organizers of the Auto Expo were criticized for hosting a poorly managed show at Pragati Maidan, at the heart of Delhi.
Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd’s chairman Anand Mahindra had then termed the show a tamashaa (farce) after unruly crowds mobbed the venue.
Immediately after the first edition of the show in 2012, it was decided to move the Expo out of Delhi because of space constraints, poor management and criticism from various quarters.
However, not much was clear until a few weeks ago with India’s home ministry raising security issues on the components show being held at Pragati Maidan that were clashing with the dates of the Defence Expo, a government official said, requesting anonymity.
“We did not know if we will be able to host the show. We were even thinking of asking Siam (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers) for space at Expo Mart,” said one of the executives from the lobby groups involved with the organization of the show. Industry lobbies Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Siam and Auto Component Manufacturers Association (Acma) organize the show jointly.
Commerce minister Anand Sharma and heavy industries minister Praful Patel intervened on behalf of the organizers, convincing the home ministry to let Acma host the components show at Pragati Maidan, the government official cited above said.
To make sure that the problems that cropped up in the last edition of the auto expo are not repeated, Siam sought outside help.
A team from Toyota Motor Corp.’s project management department trained Siam officials. All the issues that crippled the show during 2012 were raised and for each issue solutions were prepared.
“We were considered on par with some of the shows globally but last edition tarnished that image,” said Sugato Sen, deputy director general of Siam. “This time, we wanted to create a world class show and one good thing that we did was we planned much in advance.”
Werner Eichhorn, member of the board of management (sales and marketing), Skoda AG, said that the show is “small compared with the global ones” but it shall pick up in due course of time.
To be sure, the event on Wednesday was restricted exclusively for the media and a formal inauguration will be done on Thursday and the real test for the organizers would begin from Friday when the show will be opened to the public.
Sen is confident that his team will pull it off. “We are prepared this time,” he said.
Mayank Pareek, chief operating officer, marketing and sales, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, said the negative sentiment in the market is absent at the auto show. “The mood of the industry is very sombre but the show does not reflect that,” said Pareek. “The best part is the layout, which is on par with those in Frankfurt. I have been to Pragati Maidan 6-7 time for the expos but I still do not know the layout.”
Pareek said there are enough auto enthusiasts in the country and footfalls shall not be a problem. “I expect serious and semi-serious people to come to the show,” he said.