Avik Chattopadhyay talks about why the Auto Expo should now be digital and direct, as creating a virtual show would be a cakewalk for digital India.
The Auto Expo has been called off. Since its first edition in 1986, this is the first time such a decision has been taken. No doubt the pandemic has compelled the Indian automobile industry to take such a hard call on one of Asia’s biggest automobile expositions. Shows across the world were cancelled in 2020 too. However, as you read this, the CV Show in Birmingham, the IAA Mobility in Munich, and Comtrans in Moscow would have happened. End September will see Digital Auto Show Mobility 2021 in Turkey, Motor Bella in Detroit, and the Barcelona International Motor Show taking place!
If the world is back to auto shows, why is India stepping back? Do we expect another COVID-19 wave that will affect life in February 2022? Or is it that the economic impact of the pandemic has been so excruciating that the industry’s negative sentiment will sustain that long? Or are the others just being irresponsible in holding such crowd-pullers, albeit in restrained scales?
Of specific interest is the “Digital Auto Show Mobility 2021” planned by the Turkish automobile industry from September 13-26. It is a digital show with 45 participating brands. The physical interface is only with the media. Otherwise, the entire visitor experience planned is an immersive digital one!
Why can Auto Expo 2022 not be the same? India is a software powerhouse so building a digital platform will be easy, and so far during the pandemic, quite a few brands, like Land Rover pictured above, have created some very neat, immersive virtual shows.
The digital format is a terrific opportunity to expand visitor base by reaching out to millions across the country and the world. After all, the physical expo gets only 6,00,000-7,00,000 footfalls, which is a tip of the potential vehicle buying market in India. In a digital format, the Gen Z prospect, right from Kochi to Kalimpong, will be able to enjoy the best the industry has to offer. New experiential interfaces using AR-VR can be put to test. Engagements will be far more personalised and immersive. Reactions and feedback will be instant, relevant and direct. Lectures, interviews, discussions, and presentations can be planned through all times of day and night that allow serious participation.
Cultural and entertainment programmes can be conducted without bursting eardrums to drown out competitive activities. And a lot of paper can be saved from being littered all over the venue. Media experts can review vehicles at times convenient to them without jostling for favour at crowded venues. And the reviews can be consumed whenever the visitor wishes.
This is the perfect opportunity for the Indian automobile industry to demonstrate all that it tries to espouse today – engagement, digital connectivity, interface convergence, customer centricity and memorable experiences. Time to let go of the traditional way of thinking and warmly adopt the new normal.
Let’s please have the Auto Expo 2022… digital, dynamic and direct!