This year’s Auto Expo promises to be one interesting experience. The theme for Auto Expo 2012 is ‘green’, which is all very good, considering the smog and haze-laden Delhi
A few hours ago I booked my ticket for the Auto Expo 2012 online, all of Rs200 worth which will hopefully entitle me to entry at Pragati Maidan in Delhi on Saturday the 7 January 2012, without much fuss and demur. I say ‘hopefully’, because the experiences people had in the 2010 version of the Auto Expo make the Gurgaon New Year’s riots look tame.
The organisers at Auto Expo 2012, along with the authorities, appear to be trying to take no chances this time around, by restricting entry to the first 1 lakh people every day, which is about half the number that officially entered the fair grounds last time around—the actual number by way of unofficial entries, hanger-ons, VIPs, and more, would easily be more. In addition, the 1 lakh cap appears to be an arbitrary number, includes participants and officials, so there is no idea on how this will relate to visitors.
I have been visiting the Auto Expo on ‘PRESS’ passes since the inception, and therefore been spared most of the issues faced by visitors, but this time around, due to the rather complicated and time-consuming process as well as fairly blatant expectations of what reportage should be like, I choose to visit it on my own steam. Let us see how it pans out. In any case, the ‘PRESS’ experience is increasingly like a PR sponsored guided tour, lately.
Even with tickets bought in advance, if indications are to be believed, entry is not guaranteed. In addition, the fine print in the “terms and conditions” for the booking service online makes it clear that they are not responsible for any damages or any loss resulting from “inability to use the services”. In other words, if the organisers decide to shut the gates, that’s it—regardless of whether you have a ticket or pass or not. Safety is supreme—and rightly so.
So, if you want to visit the Auto Expo 2012, you need to get your entry formalities in place early—and then land up there even earlier before they put a cap on entries. In addition, most of the launch functions and special events are being held starting the 4th of January onwards, while public entry starts on the 7th.
The theme for this year’s Auto Expo is ‘green’, which is all very good, the display of new generation alternate fuel vehicles like the Audi-3 E-Tron, the Mahindra Reva NXR, the Nissan Leaf and others are surely welcome in smog and haze laden Delhi. But the larger buzz, as always, appears to be reserved for the usual smorgasbord of big engine supercars, superbikes and SUVs. Of which there are far too many to list out—but one honourable mention needs go to the home-grown supercar from DC in Mumbai. That will be essential viewing.
Likewise, the smaller component and accessory stalls, as well as speciality displays of customisation and more, hold an appeal which is often missed out in the glamour and hype of the larger pavilions from manufacturers. They are also less crowded, the exhibitors are mostly genuinely pleased to greet and show visitors their wares, and the atmosphere is more, how do we put it, Indian?
By contrast, the larger pavilions are certainly eminent displays of brilliance and new technology, on wheels and otherwise, but the often surly and condescending attitude towards visitors during public hours can be a put off. My take here to the exhibitors is this—you have come to India to sell your motor vehicles to people, not to a market. Our buyers like to touch, feel, squeeze and analyse the product thoroughly. They will therefore expect to be permitted to do the same. Live with it.
For me, the most interesting and lately most important part of this exhibition has always been the one pertaining to public transport and goods vehicles, especially in view of the extremely high growth envisaged in both these sectors in the coming years. In addition to the new buses and trucks on display, there are going to be some even more interesting displays and discussion on issues like toll collection, inter-state movement of trucks, inter-modal movement of unitised and break-bulk cargo, and long-distance buses.
But the really important part, if trends are to be believed, will be the further emergence of the mini and micro-mini trucks and people movers—and in this, the Chinese influence is to be seen to be believed—silently but inexorably making progress while the media focus and bright arc lights are on the luxury sector.
All in all, this year’s Auto Expo promises to be one interesting experience, like the ones before—but what a long way we’ve come since people came there in their lakhs to gawk at the early Marutis!!
However, do buy your tickets in advance, and be at the gates early.
More details, including on how to book tickets in advance online, are available at: