By Shubhra Tandon & Malini Bhupta
Given how the auto sector is in a trough, Auto Expo 2020 might not be as exciting as it always is, with some companies giving it a miss. The regulars are sure to be there — Maruti, Mercedes, Hyundai, SKODA, Volkwagen and Tata Motors — as also new entrants MG India and Kia Motors.
Among those who confirmed they will stay away include Lamborghini, Porsche, BMW and Bajaj Auto. Audi, Eicher Volvo and Ashok Leyland are yet to make up their minds but there is enough time to sign up.
Of the 15 top auto brands, seven stayed away in the 2018 edition, including Bajaj Auto.
A Volkswagen Group spokesperson said the exposition was a good place to showcase products and that both SKODA and Volkswagen would be there. “There is a slowdown but that does not mean we will stop investing in the market. We have put in Rs 8,000 crore and it has to bear fruit. If we stop marketing, how will it sell in the future,” he said.
Mercedes-Benz India will have as big a presence as it always does. Mercedes-Benz India MD & CEO Martin Schwenk said showcasing products, technology and service is a good way to reassure the customer’s confidence in the brand. “Apart from global products, we will also have some of the best products ‘Made in India’ here in Pune,” Schwenk said.
But others say the cost — which is important in these tough times — may not be worth it.
Also, at a time when the focus is on boosting sales and readying for the festive season, not many want to spend time and money developing a concept vehicle and planning for the event.
A senior executive with a large automobile company said given the industry is struggling, “we cannot be spending this kind of money on such an event”. He believes the returns on the investment — anywhere upwards of Rs 50 crore – don’t justify the cost.
Bajaj Auto MD Rajiv Bajaj told FE he doesn’t see the relevance of the exhibition for a well-known name like Bajaj. “What’s the point in all that time and effort spent to display what is available at the dealership down the road? Also, we would not want to forewarn competition with new products. What’s productive for us is to participate in such expos in the overseas markets that are new for us,” he said.
BMW, which plans to stay away, believes that thanks to the internet, there are several innovative ways to reach out to the relevant audience.
Meanwhile, Tata Motors confirmed to FE it would be present at the show since it was an important platform for home-grown companies.
Organiser Siam (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers) claimed the response to auto expo 2020, as of today, has been better than in 2018.
Siam director-general Vishnu Mathur said more companies are expected to confirm their participation in the next few months since bookings were made even till the end of November.
Sales of passenger vehicles have fallen in virtually every month for about 14 months now; the drop in July was a steep 31% y-o-y, the sharpest in two decades. More than 250 dealerships are reported to have closed down — across the industry. Companies have been laying off temporary workers and keeping their plants shut for more days in a month than is usually the case.
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Source: Financial Express