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Auto show hits downward curve

The Delhi Auto Expo made a name for itself as a platform for launching world-class small cars. Ironically today it is becoming notorious for chaos, poor infrastructure, rising cost and diminishing returns on investments to participants every passing year. Sumant Banerji reports. Floundering in the big league

autos Updated: Jan 09, 2012 01:12 IST
Sumant Banerji
Managing-director-and-CEO-Maruti-Suzuki-India-S-Nakanishi-poses-with-the-new-XA-Alpha-concept-SUV-car-during-the-2012-Auto-Expo-in-New-Delhi-AFP-Manan-Vatsyayana
Managing-director-and-CEO-Maruti-Suzuki-India-S-Nakanishi-poses-with-the-new-XA-Alpha-concept-SUV-car-during-the-2012-Auto-Expo-in-New-Delhi-AFP-Manan-Vatsyayana

The Delhi Auto Expo made a name for itself as a platform for launching world-class small cars. Ironically today it is becoming notorious for chaos, poor infrastructure, rising cost and diminishing returns on investments to participants every passing year.

The clamour for moving the expo out of Delhi gained ground on Sunday with Maruti Suzuki India Ltd voicing its opinion in favour of it. Maruti said worldover all major auto shows are held out of big cities and there was no reason why that should not be the case here as well.

"The fundamental problem here is that Pragati maidan is no longer equipped to handle a show that is this big," said RC Bhargava, chairman, MSIL. "Every passing year, it will only become bigger and hence it has to be moved out. There are problems on the management side as well. What happened on Friday when general public thronged the venue on a day reserved for the media was not related to poor infrastructure but bad planning."

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The expo is also no longer cheap to participate for the manufacturers. Organisers had jacked up prices by as much as 35% making the Indian edition almost as expensive as Frankfurt and Paris and more expensive than Geneva and Seoul.

"India is a compelling market so we cant ignore it, but this is no way comparable to Frankfurt or Geneva," said the head of a top German car maker. "World class, no way. It is infact embarassing."

The organisers admitted that there was a need for better infrastructure but were stifled by the lack of choices.

"We have been deliberating on this for long and are restricted by the lack of a suitable alternate venue," said Vishnu Mathur, director general, SIAM.