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Economic Slowdown Takes Its Toll

THE BIGGEST AUTOMOTIVE show in India, Auto Expo, was held last month and it very eloquently bore testimony to the economic slowdown that the industry has been suffering from. More than 50 per cent of the manufacturers chose to stay away from this biennial event. Major players like Honda and Toyota decided to give the motor show a miss along with BMW.

There were quite a few concepts on display and the flavour of the moment was electric mobility. Most, if not all, manufacturers had some EV on display.

Under their new identity, Škoda Auto, the Czech brand, will take the lead of the Volkswagen Group’s operations in India under the leadership of Gurpratap Boparai. They held a Group Night a couple of days before the Expo, where they showed a couple of concepts like the Volkswagen Taigun, which is nearly production-ready, and the Škoda 2.0 project. Both of these are mid-size SUVs.

The Union Budget was also presented last month and it offered no solace to the automobile industry such as a cut in the GST. Now Bharat Stage VI will come into effect from 1 April and new car prices will go up. Needless to say, this will further adversely affect sales. The cost of fuel is also going to go up because the refineries had to be upgraded to produce better-quality fuel for the BS-VI cars.

The annual Car India Automobile of the Year Award was presented last month and there were quite a few contenders for the top award: from the Maruti S-Presso to the mighty BMW X7, which is probably the best SUV money can buy and with the maximum bang for one’s buck. This year’s winner was the Kia Seltos which has raised the bar in its segment while offering the buyer the best value and performance for their money.

EDITOR – ASPI BHATHENA

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