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Foreigners flock to Indian auto expo

Around 200 exhibitors from 20 nations are taking part in the six-day auto show, reports Deshbandhu Singh.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2006 22:13 IST

The growing might of the Indian automobile industry was highlighted by the overwhelming overseas participation in the 8th Auto Expo being held in New Delhi.

Around 200 exhibitors from 20 nations took part in the six-day auto show. Countries such as China, Germany, Italy, Taiwan and UK are participating through country pavilions. In the last auto show two years ago, there were only 120 overseas auto players.

Even when some of the world's biggest automobile companies like GM, Toyota, Hyundai etc are not participating in the 8th Auto Expo, what is dubbed as Asia largest auto show has Audi's Rs 1.20 crore A8 W12, or saw its cheaper variant Rs 24 lakh A4 car launched, Ford's $24,995 Mustang GT, or Honda's $19,000 hybrid Insight or Honda Civic, besides several hybrids and concepts cars and bikes.

This time again the biggest attractionis the German pavilion. Under the roof of the German joint pavilion, more than 22 companies exhibited the country's state-of-the-art automotive technology.

Apart from the companies participating within the German Pavilion, country's leading carmakers are also present. The participating companies include the first-time entrant Volkswagen along with Audi and Skoda.

Audi unveiled its luxury sedan 'A4' and said it will bring its Sports Utility Vehicle 'Q7' to India in the last quarter of 2006.

The ex-showroom Delhi price for A4 will be Rs 24,74,000 (1.8T multitronic) and Rs 26,59,000 (2.0l TDI multitronic). Metallic paintwork and leather seats will cost Rs 62,000 and Rs 96,000 respectively.

"A4 will be first available in Delhi and Bangalore and will then be launched in other metros," Audi General Manager (Africa, Middle East and India) Stefan Hamberger said.

The company aims to sell 150 units in India in this calendar year. In total, Audi aims at selling 300 units of vehicles in India.

The company also showcased its Rs 1.2 crore Audi A8 W12 model and new A6. Volkswagen has displayed its Multivan and Phaeton car.

Skoda has shown all the major products from its stable - Skoda Fabia, Skoda Laura, Skoda Octavia Combi, Skoda Superb, Skoda RS. A top SkodaAuto India official said that the company was eyeing small car market in India. It also said Skoda planed to sell 13,500 cars in 2006 as compared to 9,000 in 2005. They have sold more than 25,000 cars in India since its inception in 2001.

Skoda Auto is a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group (VAG) and used to be the leading automobile manufacturer in the Czech Republic. However, since being taken over by German car giant Volkswagen in the early 1990s, the much maligned Czech manufacturer has rapidly risen up the auto rankings.

For the first time several UK organisations have joined hands to bring a UK delegation comprising 79 members, representing about 50 UK companies, to India's AutoExpo.

The UK delegation to AutoExpo comprises small and medium-size companies excelling in component manufacturing and high-tech design, including vehicle and engine design.

In the last 3 years, there have been 36 partnerships between Indian and UK automotive companies.

"The UK has a long established automotive industry. The names which dominate our industry today may be different from those 30 years ago, but the characteristics that have made it one of Britain's key industries remain," said Stephen Lillie, Director of Trade & Industry, British High Commission.

He further said, "We are fully aware that India's automotive sector has experienced impressive rates of growth and development in recent years. India is becoming an increasingly important player in the world automotive sector."

the biggest ever 52-member delegation from France, led by Armand Batteux, visited the expo. Ever since a joint venture was signed between M&M and Renault, some excitement was generated in this European country in the auto component sector.

A delegation form Iran showed keen interest in Indian auto industry and invited the Indian small car manufacturers to have major presence in Iran either through joint ventures or through manufacturing tie-ups.

China is also making its presence felt with as many as 60 companies setting up stalls.

First Published: Jan 15, 2006 21:45 IST