At least two companies are adopting a different strategy even as the Auto Expo is set to open later this week.

S. Muralidhar
Neha Kaushik

New Delhi Jan. 9

IS IT the lack of new products that is keeping some of the bigwigs away from this year's Auto Expo or have they worked out an alternative marketing strategy?

The biannual event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Society of Indian Automotive Manufacturers has seen some stellar small car launches in the past. Cars that were show-stealers and have since redefined the people's car segment were first unveiled at the Auto Expo.

But this year's expo, the 8th in line, will miss the hype due to the absence of new products in the entry-level segment. This year's event will also miss the presence of some majors in the auto industry such as General Motors India, Toyota Kirloskar Motor and Hyundai Motor India (which did not take part last time as well).

At least two companies are adopting a different strategy even as the Auto Expo is set to open later this week. It is being widely speculated that General Motors is set to launch the Chevrolet Aveo later this year. And yet, the company is not participating in the expo. Mr Rajeev Chaba, Managing Director, General Motors India, says the expo did not fit in the company's marketing programme, since it is looking at a different kind of audience for its products. The company is banking on its own events to showcase its cars and technology.

Hyundai Motor India (HMIL) too seems to be following a similar strategy. The Auto Expo is a limited platform and centred around Delhi and its neighbourhood, says Mr B.V.R. Subbu, President of HMIL. Our own road show that is on currently is a broader and more efficient way of communicating with our customers, he says. Our customers around the country will miss the touch-and-feel aspect of a show like this and moreover, in a cost-benefit analysis, the show did not make any economic justification, says Mr Subbu.

Toyota, which has had a large presence in the expo in the past, is not participating this year. A Toyota spokesperson says the company had decided to refrain from participating due to the absence of any relevant new product.

However, this year's expo will see ample with new players Audi and Volkswagen set to showcase their cars for the first time. Suzuki Motorcycles is also set to announce its launch in India at the expo.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 10, 2006)
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