Global Automakers Head to India to Showcase New Cars

      January 07, 2010 12:23

      India has emerged as a new stage for global carmakers to debut their products. The Auto Expo 2010 has drawn over 10,000 visitors involved in the auto industry since it opened in New Delhi on Tuesday.

      Toyota unveiled its new compact cars at the auto show, signaling its intention to grab a larger share of the Indian market, while Honda revealed its New Small Concept car. GM is displaying the Beat (GM Daewoo Matiz Creative), a compact that has been manufactured in India since the end of last year, in an effort to overtake market leaders Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai.

      India and China have replaced Tokyo and Detroit as the venues for the world's largest motor shows, a motor journalist pointed out. The Tokyo Motor Show has been scaled down due to the absence of major foreign automakers and the Detroit Motor Show also has languished amid the troubles of the "Big Three" U.S. carmakers -- General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler.

      Auto Expo 2010 opens in New Delhi on Tuesday.

      According to data from the Indian auto industry, 1.4 million cars were sold in the South Asian country last year, surpassing the 1.1 million units sold in Korea. Experts predict the Indian market will expand to produce 3 million units a year by 2015, or 4 million units if exports are included as well. That would make India the world's fourth largest auto market, after China, the U.S., and Japan.

      Hyundai, currently no. 2 in the Indian market by sales, is facing threats from competitors including Suzuki, Toyota, GM, and Volkswagen, which are launching new compacts that cost between 250,000 and 450,000 rupees. This is the price range of most of the Korean carmaker's flagship models. In India, small vehicles with 1.5-liter engines or smaller account for 80 percent of the market. Hyundai sold about 290,000 cars there last year, taking a 21 percent share of the market. Maruti Suzuki dominated the market with a 51 percent share.

      The Korea Automotive Research Institute affiliated with Hyundai Motor predicts that with the Korea-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement taking effect this year, Indian-made compact cars will likely be imported into Korea soon as the 8 percent tariff will be gradually scrapped according to model types within the next five years.

      The Indian government has drawn up mid- and long-term plans to develop its auto industry. Under the plan, the nation's auto market is expected to expand by four to five times, from $34 billion worth of production in 2006 to $150 billion in 2016. Hyundai, meanwhile, is churning out 300,000 units a year in India for export to the European market.

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