The 9th auto show that starts next month in the Capital will be the largest in Asia in terms of space—the first time India has overtaken well-known shows such as the Tokyo Motor Show and equalled that of Shanghai, spurred by the country’s economic boom and rising appetite for vehicles.

The auto exhibition will cover 140,000 sq. m of space, said the organizer, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), an industry lobby. This compares with almost the same amount of space at the Shanghai show and 40,000 sq. m of the Tokyo Motor Show. China is the world’s fastest growing automobile market.

A January 2006 picture of the 8th New Delhi Auto Expo. Orders worth Rs538 crore were placed during this show

As a result, organizers are scrambling to create temporary structures over all available space including water bodies and taking over reserved spaces allocated to Indian states at Pragati Maidan, a popular venue for exhibitions. This auto expo will see more than 2,000 participants compared with 1,200 in 2006, as Indian and overseas auto makers and component makers get together to display their wares to tap more customers in Asia’s third largest automobile market. Those in the queue for space will get it on a first-come, first-served basis.

The prices for stalls vary depending on their size and where in the venue they are located. This could cost as little as Rs6,600 per sq. m for domestic exhibitors to Rs12,000 per sq.m for overseas companies.

The auto show is expected to see as many as 30 new car launches this year. The much awaited Rs1 lakh car from Tata Motors Ltd, slated to be the country’s cheapest, as well as Maruti Suzuki India Ltd’s concept car A-Star, to be made in India for the European and local market, will be unveiled.

“There is going to be a lot of excitement this year with new players entering the market and existing companies coming out with products that are going to change the rules of the game," said V.G. Ramakrishnan, director (automotive and transport practice), South Asia and Middle East, Frost & Sullivan, a consulting firm.

Despite lending rates that are at a five-year high—this has hurt growth in the current fiscal—the Indian automobile market has seen double-digit growth in the past several years as a robust economic expansion puts more money into people’s wallets enabling them to buy cars and houses.

Sales of automobiles totalled nearly 1.4 million units in 2006-07 from 551,365 units a decade ago as the number of manufacturers in the country increased to 14.

In the past two years, several international auto makers including Volkswagen AG and Nissan Motor Co. have announced their intention to spend Rs60,000 crore in building new factories. The car market alone is set to triple to three million units a year by 2015, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, an industry group.

This is the first time that the New Delhi Auto Expo will be accredited to the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles (Oica), an international industry group, said the organizers. Oica will include the Delhi show in its calendar of international shows and this will also draw in more international companies and overseas business delegations as the organization will promote the show to its members, said Singh.

Business delegations are especially important for component manufacturers as they get to exhibit their products and book orders over a short period of time. In the last auto show in Delhi, there were more than 130,000 trade enquiries and orders worth Rs538 crore were booked, according to statistics provided by CII.

Ammar Master in Mumbai contributed to this story.