New Delhi, Jan 10: With an eye on Asia's third largest automobile market, car majors across the globe are set to showcase their products at the ninth Auto Expo 2008, which commenced here today. The Expo will witness four global launches of new cars, including the much-touted Tata's Rs one-lakh car, which would be unveiled today.
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd will unveil its 'A-Star" hatchback concept car with a launch slated later in the year. Besides, it will also showcase its 1.1 litre 'Splash" which will be produced for the entire European market. Besides, General Motors India will launch its bestselling 'SUV Captiva" in India. Japan's Honda Motor will showcase its technologically advanced fuel cell car 'FCX" and a 'hybrid Civic", besides a 'Jazz" prototype, which will be launched in India in 2009.
Around 2000 exhibitors from 25 countries, including France, Brazil, Japan and Korea, will participate in the Expo. The Expo will also see one of the biggest global participation with automobile manufacturers and ancillaries from the US, Japan, China, Germany, France and Italy among others exhibiting their products.
The organisers have set up special pavilions like diesel city, infotronics, design pavillion and auto enterprise. The event is expected to attract over 12 lakh visitors. Organised jointly by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers and Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India, the Expo will open for general public from today at Pragati Maidan.
Entry tickets have been priced at Rs. 500 for business and Rs 150 for general public. Volkswagen's Czech unit Skoda Auto plans to double its India capacity in 2008, to 30,000 units, with the firm's growth mainly from its compact car. Skoda's stable includes the compact Fabia and mid-sized Octavia and Combi. In the nine months to December, it sold 752 Fabia units.
With sales of 9308 units in the nine months to December, Skoda has a miniscule share of India's passenger car market that saw sales of 1.1 million units in the same period. "We will double our volume from 2007. We are now in a phase when we analyse our potential for future products," said Thomas Kuehl, a member of the board of directors, Skoda India.
Skoda has no manufacturing operations in India, but assembles cars in local plants, mostly using imported parts. General Motors Corp is confident of meeting its target of 10 percent of the Indian market by 2010, said Ankush Arora, vice president, sales and marketing, GM india.
"It is very strategic market as far as General Motors is concerned. We are investing for long term in the Indian market. We already have a plant in Halol where we have increased the capacity to 85,000 units. In addition to that we are building a new plant near Pune in Talegaon which is having a capacity of 140,000 units. So our clear cut goal is to attain 10 percent market share in next 3-5 horizon," Arora said after unveiling the company's Captiva vehicle at the suto show on Wednesday.
General Motors, which is building a second factory in India to take capacity to more than 225,000 units, sold more than 60,000 vehicles in India in 2007, a 68 percent rise over the previous year. It has said it may also build an engine and transmission plant and that India could become an export hub for small cars. DaimlerChrysler sees brisk demand for its luxury Mercedes-Benz cars in India.
Sales of its premium Mercedes cars had reached almost 1,500 in the first seven months of 2007, up 22 percent from the same period a year earlier. "With the kind of growth that we are seen and with the effect that profitable company the interest in this market clearly grows. Profit in numbers drive interest in markets and this is happening in case of India," said Wilfried Aulbur, chief executive of DaimlerChrysler India.
Its C-Class sedans are priced at about 2.5 million rupees. The company, which competes with BMW, Volkswagen's Audi and Porsche, sold 2,491 units in India in 2007, up 18 percent from the previous year.
Daimler is spending 67 million dollars in a plant near Pune in Maharashtra with a capacity to make 5,000 Mercedes cars a year. Daimler, which owns 6.8 percent in India's top truck maker, Tata Motors Ltd., also imports Actros heavy trucks and has said it plans to assemble trucks in India soon.
Fiat is also planning to increase capacity at its joint venture plant by the end of 2010 to meet domestic and export demand, and expects to sell nearly 70,000 cars in India by then. Fiat currently sells about 2,000 Palio cars a year in the country, which are assembled at Ranjangaon. Rising incomes and new models are boosting car sales in India where only eight people in every 1,000 own a car.
Annual passenger vehicle sales are forecast to double to two million units by 2010. Small cars currently make up nearly two-thirds of the domestic market. Premium cars make up only about three percent of sales now.