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Hyundai Hnd-9 Venac. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Hyundai Hnd-9 Venac. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Photo Essay | Looking ahead

Concept cars and bikes, CEOs rubbing shoulders and a huge footfallAuto Expo 2014 gives manufacturers something to cheer about

The 12th Auto Expo 2014, which opened on Friday in Greater Noida, comes as a breath of fresh air in an industry where bad news has been piling up thick and fast—production cutbacks to reduce inventory have been announced, sales have been skidding and layoffs are taking place.

As many as 70 new cars and bikes are being showcased, with at least 26 of these being global. Automakers are showing a range of new concepts (pre-production car and bike designs), which may define the future of cars on Indian roads (some of these are shown here). The sub-4m segment, which has a tax-break for automakers, continues to have the most number of concepts with cars such as the sedan Ford Figo and Tata Zest, and sports utility vehicles such as the Volkswagen Tiguan and Maruti Suzuki India Ltd’s SX4 S-Cross on display.

At the pavilion of two-wheeler makers the competition is on two fronts. One is among traditional rivals Hero MotoCorp Ltd, Bajaj Auto Ltd and Honda, with each trying to outplay the other with radical designs and powerful motorcycles. The other is between global motorcycling icons like Harley-Davidson and Triumph Motorcycles; in fact their pavilions are opposite each other. On Friday, Harley stole the show with its Street 750 ( 4.1 lakh). Triumph’s Daytona 675 ( 10.15 lakh), on the other hand, may find fewer takers. Both brands also seem to be competing for the best Auto Expo music (read classic rock).

The highlight during the media preview on Thursday was the presence of corporate honchos. Ratan Tata, former chairman of Tata group, spent most of his time at the Mercedes-Benz stall. He later visited the Bajaj pavilion to see their quadricycle, RE60. Tata group chairman Cyrus Mistry met Dheeraj Hinduja, chairman, Ashok Leyland Ltd, the Chennai-based company which is a competitor of Tata Motors. Pawan Goenka, executive director, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, was also at the expo.

Manufacturers also showed a lot of interest in electric and hybrid vehicles with at least 15 vehicles on display, including the electric superbike Terra Kiwami.

A comforting factor for the industry body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers and the companies will be the number of visitors—more than 40,000 people had visited the expo till noon on Day 1. The organizers are expecting at least 100,000 people daily.

Auto Expo 2014 is on show till 11 February at Indian Expo Mart, Greater Noida.

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