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Sumant Banerji, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 14, 2012
Struggling with its popularity, which has seen enthusiastic visitors bring the Capital’s traffic to a standstill, organisers of the New Delhi Auto Expo have opted to move it to the suburbs, taking on the underlying danger of fewer footfalls. This will be the first major makeover for the biennial event, which will complete 25 years in its 2014 edition.

With a new name and venue, a leaner format and fresh dates, the organisers are pinning their hopes on a near perfect event — radically different from the error-strewn misadventures of the last two shows.

First, the dates: the 2014 edition would be held between February 6 and 12 instead of the first half of January. It will be called ‘Auto Expo — the Motor Show 2014’ and will be split into two separate events, one for automobile manufacturers, and one for the components industry.

The venue moves over 30 kilometers from Pragati Maidan in the heart of the national capital to the Greater Noida Exposition Mart, in one of Delhi’s upcoming satellite towns.

This change will almost certainly mean fewer footfalls, and an automatic fall in the pecking order among auto shows worldwide. But that is the least of the battered industry’s concerns.

“Crowd and footfalls is important for any consumer event that shows new concepts and ideas,” said an official with Maruti, India’s largest car manufacturer.

“But that is not everything. When the crowd becomes unmanageable it becomes a farce. That is what happened in January this year,” he said.

A rash of unsavory instances including unruly crowds, lack of coordination among various organisers, poor infrastructure and severe traffic jams had drawn ire from participating companies during the the last two editions of the Auto Expo.

“The crowd management is dismal. Wall to wall people on a media day? Either management is lax or media is the most popular profession in India,” Anand Mahindra, chairman and managing director, Mahindra Group had tweeted in January.

“Fare on display at Auto Expo is the richest I’ve seen. Infrastructure is still the poorest and beams a contradictory picture to the world. Auto Expo needs to find a new, more capacious and tidier home. Or the world will be happy to give the go-by to Indian auto’s shop window,” he said.