17th Feb 2014 2:14 am
On the highs and lows of the Auto Expo 2014.
The Auto Expo 2014 was probably India’s best ever. Exciting concepts, a bunch of alluring showroom-ready cars and loads and loads of optimism. It was well organised, and had the vibe of an international auto show.
For a start, there were a bunch of motor show 'must haves' missing. To begin with, there was very little eye candy. No, I'm not talking about the two-legged kind, there was plenty of that, both domestic and imported. There was no Ferrari and no Lamborghini, and Porsche was conspicuous by its absence too. India may have become the 'Land of Quattro' with 10,000 Audis sold last year, but we aren't the land of the sportscars yet. Only the Chevy Corvette and the simply stunning BMW i8 waved the flag for supercars.
Next on the 'MIA' list were electrics. Yes, there was one new one, the Mahindra Reva Halo, and it was a 'sporty' one too, but electric production cars and all-electric concepts were so thinly spread, they barely registered. How many were there; two? Can't really blame the carmakers; what with the ‘fantastic support' they are getting from our government. No industry support to speak of, no concrete plan to improve the charging infrastructure, nothing. Is it any wonder that Mahindra has announced it isn’t interested in launching more electric cars unless there’s a change in legislation?
There was plenty to excite and celebrate, however, loads of stuff that fizzed, crackled and popped, as if to tell us that the car industry is ready for the market to come back. I absolutely loved Ford's optimism; the simply stunning sub-four-metre Figo Concept is proof of what an order book filled to the brim can do; clearly, they’re going after the Maruti Dzire. And Tata’s ready with a new sub-four sedan too. It finally seems to have registered that the revolution it kickstarted with the Indigo compact sedan is worth following up on. The new aggressive looks of the Zest, its new interiors, the new turbo petrol engine and new automated manual transmission (AMT) ’box for the diesel look all set to help Tata stage a comeback. Hyundai’s sub-four Xcent is so much more complete than we expected it to be, incumbent Datsun struck a chord with the much-awaited Go, Maruti’s spacious new Celerio set a new benchmark for value and its new AMT looks like it will be the tech trend of the year; like an iPad, almost everyone will want one. The Mobilio and Jazz are what Honda has loaded up next in its silos and Toyota’s Etios Cross is its attempt at injecting some excitement into its otherwise dull entry car.
Even the luxury car players had lots to look forward to. BMW launched its very spacious 3 GT, Audi will put the much awaited A3 sedan into the market and Merc’s GLA SUV could shake the market up as well.
The show also had plenty of really exciting concepts. VW’s Taigun looks perfect for our market with a few crucial mods, Tata’s Nexon SUV concept felt like a breath of fresh air and Renault’s Kwid showcased the wackier side of the French carmaker. Honda’s XS-1 looked stunning, a production version of Fiat’s Avventura will go on sale and Chevrolet’s styled-in-India Adra was a real eye opener.
The Expo has created a wave of interest and now, all we need is a bit of post-poll optimism from the market. There’s loads of stuff to get excited about.