Auto Expo 2012: A victim of its success
Kushan Mitra January 11, 2012Why, pray, would someone who genuinely likes cars put down the Auto Expo? Because this is not the show it should be.
Until 2008, the Indian automotive industry was still growing up, and India was a vital but still not an immense market. All that changed in 2008 - particularly at the Auto Expo - when the Tata Nano was launched. While the Nano has not been the sales success that Ratan Tata had hoped it would be, its launch was a global event.
Since then, the Expo has been considered by some to be the start of the automotive calendar, instead of Detroit's North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in the heart of Motown.
India will become the world's third-largest car market in the next few years, overtaking the UK and Germany. Who knows, if urban infrastructure keeps up, we might be the world's second-largest car market behind China and ahead of the US by 2020.
But, that is, if infrastructure stays in place. And, on the face of it, the infrastructural challenges of the Auto Expo 2012 highlight the fact that India has a 'band-aid' approach to infrastructure, with the notable exception of the Delhi and Hyderabad airports.
Pragati Maidan dates from the early-1980's and while it sits in a prime location in the heart of Delhi, the halls and buildings are well past their prime.
The Auto Expo was also horribly organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). Crowds were poorly managed, there was a media free-for-all and the event space itself was tragic. Auto Expo 2012, for lack of a nicer word, was an embarrassment.
What can be done to save the day?
I have a few suggestions.