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Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee
Glitzy.
HOT WHEELS

India’s biggest auto expo has too many models, without wheels

By Manu Balachandran

Even the legendary cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar, was left a little confused when he attended the Indian Auto Expo yesterday (Feb.03).

“For a moment I thought you had organised a cricket match here. I could see Virat (Kohli), Zaheer (Khan), and Mohinder Amarnath,” a surprised Tendulkar said, evoking applause from the media and the organisers.

The 42-year-old retired batsman had come to visit the BMW pavilion at India’s biggest auto expo, a week-long event currently underway at the 60,000-square metre India Expo Mart, in Greater Noida near New Delhi.

From homegrown carmakers, including Mahindra and Tata Motors, to global majors such as BMW and Mercedes, at least 65 automobile companies flaunted their vehicles at the biennial event.

Yet, apart from a handful of new launches, the event was mostly a congregation of the country’s celebrities, models and journalists. Apart from Tendulkar and Kohli, two of India’s biggest sporting icons, film stars Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, and Katrina Kaif were among those who lined up at pavilions. Also at the pavilions were many foreign models who were flown in to India to present the vehicles at the expo.

A few industry leaders, including the reclusive Cyrus Mistry of Tata Motors and Anand Mahindra of Mahindra, turned up, along with their entourages of business executives.

But barring a few new launches such as the Maruti Suzuki Brezza, Honda BR-V, Tata Hexa, and Hyundai Tucson, most automobiles on display were either established products brought to India for the first time, or upgraded models. These included the Jaguar XE, Mercedes GLC and S-Class Cabriolet, and Volkswagen Passat GTE.

Meanwhile, American automaker, Jeep, launched operations in India.

There was also a glimpse of what the Indian automobile market may look like in the next few years. A number of buses, two-wheelers and cars on display were either hybrid vehicles or electric. Tata Motors, for instance, showcased both versions of its buses—electric and hybrid CNG. Ashok Leyland had a CNG hybrid bus, while Mahindra launched GenZe, its electric scooter.

Here is what Day 1 of the Indian Auto expo looked like:

AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal
HND-14, a concept car of Hyundai, on display on Feb. 03, 2016.
AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal
Former Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar during the launch of the BMW 7series.
AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal
Indian cricketer Virat Kohli and Bollywood star Alia Bhatt (right) at the launch of the Audi R8 V10 plus.
AP Photo/Manish Swarup
Actress Katrina Kaif with the newly launched “built in India” Jaguar XE.
AP Photo/Tsering Topgya
Jim Morrison, director of Jeep’s brand product marketing, unveils the Grand Cherokee SRT.
AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal
The India launch of Renault’s Climber.
Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee
Toyota Kirloskar Motor’s managing director, Naomi Ishii, and chief executive engineer, Hiroki Nakajima (right), with the new Innova.
Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee
Tata Group chairman, Cyrus Mistry, and Tata Motors’ head of advanced and product engineering, Tim Leverton (right), during the launch of the Zica.
Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee
Stefan Jacoby (R), General Motors’s international president, and Harish Kumar, creative designer, North America, with the newly-launched Essentia.
Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee
The BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car.
Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee
Vincent Cobee, Nissan corporate vice president, with the newly launched Go-Cross concept car.
EPA/Harish Tyagi
Michael Mayer (right), director of Volkswagen passenger cars, and Jurgen Stackmann, member of the board of management of Volkswagen cars, with the newly launched Passat.
EPA/Harish Tyagi
A general view of the mega event.