The biennial auto show of India is going to kick-start this week and it is going to be dominated by Chinese automakers exhibiting cutting-edge electric vehicles and connected cars. However, in a move to curb the spread of Coronavirus the booths will be staffed only by Indian representatives and employees.
Avoiding Chinese Delegates
Considering the death toll from the latest coronavirus outbreak in China approaching 500 and cases of the disease spreading across the globe, organizers of the auto show are promising the visitors that officials coming from China are not going to be in attendance.
“There will be no visitors or delegations from China at the Motor Show 2020,” Rajan Wadhera, president of Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), which is organizing the show, said in a statement on Tuesday. Companies from the Chinese have assured that their booths would be handled by Indian representatives or employees, he said.
Chinese automakers SAIC Motor Corp Ltd, Great Wall Motor Co Ltd, and FAW Haima are poised to exhibit their cars including electric vehicles, whereas over 300 Chinese auto parts companies are also ready to participate.
The Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA), which is organizing a side by side exhibition for auto parts companies, said visitors from China would not be attending and that booth of some 30 Chinese exhibitors is going to be handled by Indian representatives as a precaution.
Attracting Indian Buyers with Technology
Chinese automakers have been working to attract Indian buyers with cars that come with internet connectivity, filling a breach left by Western and Japanese manufacturers including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Honda Motor Co Ltd and Nissan Motor Co Ltd, which are not going to participate in this year’s show.
They also wish India’s market can help counter falling sales in China, which decreased by 8% in 2019 and are set to fall again in 2020.
Suzuki Motor Corp and Hyundai Motor Co have dominated India’s market for a long time using their low-priced compact cars, and in recent years have widened into other categories.
Chinese automakers are not planning to contest in the entry-level segment, instead of attracting drivers using in-car technology, safety features, and vehicles that run on clean energy.
Great Wall, which is going to make its India debut at the show, planned to bring more than 100 delegates but all have canceled, including the president, a local executive said.
“The first and most important thing is the safety of people. Once this situation is taken care of, our senior executives will come to India,” said Hardeep Brar, Director of Marketing and Sales.
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