A treat for auto enthusiasts

After an interval of every two years, the capital witnesses Auto Expo, the ultimate auto show in the country. This mega event is usually held at Pragati Maidan and this year it is no different

Auto Expo 2012 has been welcomed with an anticipation of a new and bright beginning by the industry pundits. We take a look at the expo:

Less fanfare with cars

2011 has not been the best year for the automobile industry. The country heavyweights like Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, General Motors and others have registered below-par sales figures last year, which is hardly surprising considering the economical meltdown affecting the purchasing power of the consumer. We had seen many new entrants into the market in 2011, hence the fact that Auto Expo 2012 has been centred on SUV and two-wheeler launches with no major small car launches does not come as a surprise. Companies have opted to launch cars in the SUV segment, whereas not many small segment cars have made their presence felt at the expo, except for the likes of Renault, which has made its foray into this highly competitive segment with the launch of Pulse. According to experts, the Mini SUV segment is likely to attract buyers from the entry-level sedan segment. “2011 has been a mediocre year for the automobile industry in the country primarily due to the economic challenges that has plagued the global economies,” says Shashank Srivastava, CMO, Maruti Suzuki India ltd.

Key Highlights:

No major small-car launches this year, SUV/MUV segment expected to be majorly active

Two wheeler juggernaut

Two-wheeler manufacturers have unveiled around 12 new major models at the expo, of which six were in the scooter segment. The 110cc segment, which is highly crowded with multiple brands, is the one to look out for this year as the likes of Honda, Hero group, Yamaha, Suzuki, etc have lined up launches this year. Even the conventional mountain bikes from Firefox have unveiled their most expensive bikes priced at around Rs 4 lakh. Bajaj Auto is expected to retain its stranglehold in the segment with continuous competition from Hero, Yamaha, etc.

Key Highlights:

Bajaj leads the way in this segment, Hero, Suzuki, Yamaha set to make the 110cc segment competitive, High-end mountain bikes for the aspiring

Commercial gets its share

The non-traditional commercial vehicle segment has been quite visible this year. Tata Motors has launched its new LCV range called Ultra. Volvo has made its presence felt with new range of multi- axle buses. Even the luxury giant, Daimler Chrysler aka Mercedes Group, has decided to foray into this segment with its buses.

From luxury to aspirational

Words like Mercedes and BMW have always been regarded as something that only the wealthy can afford. Although these names have not become affordable, they have certainly understood the dynamics of the major price-sensitive consumer base in the country. To keep prices competitive, Mercedes is considering increasing the localisation of products, which seems to be a general pattern with companies these days. India is unique for major automobile players, holding great promise for both ends of the market—the small car and the luxury sedans. The BMW Series for the aspiring is expected to hit Indian roads by 2012-end, whereas the likes of Audi have initiated their research and study process to launch their models.

Finally, the expectations within the automobile segment rise to farfetched levels with the unveiling of various futuristic concepts and also launches that will entertain the Indian shores in the near future.

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