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A note for those writing the epitaph of the Delhi Auto show.

Auto Expo 2020: The show must go on

A note for those writing the epitaph of the Delhi Auto show.
  • Today is the 15th edition of Auto Expo and many experts think that the show has lost its charm as the big brands have backed out.
  • Sukrit Singh, Former CEO and Co-founder of Encompass and current owner of The Platform, shares a few reasons to visit the event.

Today marks the 15th edition of the auto-expo. However, even before the opening a large number of people have written the epitaph of the bi-annual event. Yes, it’s true that several players like Hero Motor Corp, BMW, Fiat, Nissan and Ford will be conspicuous by their absence. Blame it on an industry in the throes of an existential crisis where marketers are unable to fathom returns. Yes, it’s true that the Chinese have dealt a double whammy – first by saving the auto show by their land grab, where 20% of the space is now rented to Chinese brands such as Great Wall, BYD and MG. However, the second whammy is the more sinister Coronavirus that has spread trepidation amongst the millions planning to visit.

Whatever the threats - the big boys are in, and pretenders are waiting in the wings. Maruti, Mahindra, Tata, Hyundai and the successful new challenger Kia have their battle lines drawn. Each with space the size of a football field and an ammunition of connected cars, green engines, electric mobility and platforms for the sharing economy. Mercedes Benz loves their India story and there is no better place to flaunt it. The Chinese invasion is led by MG and we will see the debut of Great Wall Motors and BYD. The brave new world where Japan, China and Korea are preening in a war dance before fighting what is perhaps the last battle of Panipat.

Looking at the rear-view mirror it will be interesting to note that the first auto show was held at Madison Square Garden, New York in the year 1900. For 120 years, auto-shows have been a combination of debutant ball coupled with a victory parade. Wining and pampering the press, glamorous hostesses showing off automobile models and a fantasy land of futuristic clay models, enough to draw vast hordes of the gullible public. It’s interesting to note that the last auto-show in Delhi had an attendance of 0.6 million people.

Travelling to first world auto shows like Frankfurt and Los Angeles, one can’t help but notice the paradigm shift. Crowds are thinning, exhibition stalls are shrinking, and expenses are being questioned. Auto brands are now moving to 'sexier' platforms like Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and CES in Las Vegas. So, there you go – blame everything on the dirty 'D' word - Digital is the new reality!

In today’s connected world the lines blur between physical and digital, where click-throughs are more valuable than visitors. Virtual reality lets you customize and create, and artificial intelligence engines are replacing horsepower. The Auto Show is now a daily event, on-demand on our phones and tablets; but is there a future for the good old event?

Come to the 15th Delhi Auto Expo and judge for yourself.

Don’t come for the glamorous girls - come to get a glimpse of smart devices that will drive mobility and change your world. Don’t come for the brands that have messed up (and are missing out) – come for the 60+ launches that repose faith and drive India’s future. Come to see petrol heads turn electric, come to see traditionalists go green and come to see yourself driven by the internet of things (IOT). Come to see mobile phone manufacturers – synergize with transport and internet providers explore new e-ways. There is no better place to see how rapidly the old order is changing and yielding place to new. Take the seat, shift gears and drive into the future at the 15th Auto Expo in Greater Noida. Don’t come to just see the future – come to be the future!

Sukrit Singh is the former CEO and co-founder of Encompass and presently runs THE PLATFORM, an agency built for the sharing economy.