After last edition’s fiasco, show happening at two venues for better visitor management

As you are walking to claim your bag at Delhi’s T3 after an afternoon flight into the Capital, you realise that there is definitely something different about the Auto Expo this year.

Vinyl advertising boards inside the terminal building remind you that the 12th edition of the expo begins this week. And, in large letters they tell you that the expo is being held at Greater Noida. “Entry strictly by tickets… Book your tickets…” goes the rest of the advertisement, giving the Website where one can book the tickets.

After the fiasco at the 11th expo — held at the Pragati Maidan in the heart of Delhi — the organisers have changed the format this time.

It has been split into two, with the one for automobile manufacturers being held in Greater Noida and that for component makers at Pragati Maidan.

This followed protests from all concerned over the way the expo in 2012 was organised.

On the first two days, specifically earmarked for the media, there was everybody jostling for space with the huge number of reporters.

There were mothers pushing babies in strollers, kids shooting pictures on their expensive mobile phones and some even attempting to ask questions at the press conferences.

The harassed automakers gave a clear ultimatum to the organisers – Confederation of Indian Industry, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers and Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India – that they will not hesitate to boycott the expo if things didn’t improve.

Heeding their warning, the organisers have split the show into two and moved the vehicle show to the India Expo Mart in Greater Noida.

The week-long event starts on February 5, with the first two days earmarked for the media and dealers. The components show is more of a B2B event whereas the vehicles exhibition is a more glamorous one and will attract a large number of motoring enthusiasts when it is thrown open to the public. This year’s expo is being held in the middle of one of the worst slowdowns that the domestic auto industry is going through.

Barring a handful of manufacturers, all others have reported a drop in sales in January from the year-ago period.

They blame it on what they describe as overall sentiment – rising fuel prices, high interest rates and an uncertain economic environment.

They are hoping that the expo will perk up sales. There are 26 global launches and a few concept showcases planned at the expo, underlining yet again the growing importance of the Delhi expo for manufacturers from across the world.

The biennial expo was so far held in the first half of January, when fog would play havoc with flight operations and throw schedules awry. This time the expo is being held in the early part of February when fog should not be that much of a problem. But, whether the expo by itself will lift the foggy outlook for the auto makers remains to be seen.

(This article was published on February 3, 2014)
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