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Last Updated : Oct 09, 2019 09:12 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Slowdown blues: A dozen companies to give Auto Expo 2020 a miss; heavyweights to participate

At last count, at least a dozen odd companies had envisaged interest in participating in the week-long event that kicks off on February 7, 2020

Swaraj Baggonkar @swarajsb

The prolonged slowdown and a general fall in public interest will put the focus back on Auto Expo 2020, India’s biggest automobile extravaganza, as some popular brands decide to give the biennial event a miss.

At last count, at least a dozen odd companies had envisaged interest in participating in the week-long event that kicks off on February 7, 2020. An equal number of companies were yet to decide on whether to participate or not.

Among the big brands that have opted to give the event a miss are Tata Motors-controlled Jaguar Land Rover, Ford Motors, Audi, Royal Enfield, Yamaha, Ashok Leyland, Fiat and Jeep, Honda Cars India and Bajaj Auto.

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Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India, Toyota, TVS Motor Company, Nissan, Datsun, Kinetic Group’s Motoroyale promoted foreign two-wheeler brands like MV Agusta, Norton, Hyosung and FB Mondial are yet to take a call on their participation, though dates of the Auto Expo were announced more than two months back.

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Automobile sales ended September on a sour note yet again, posting their 10th consecutive decline, despite record high discounts. Companies are forced to keep their factories shut while sending their staff on unscheduled leave. More than 500 dealerships are estimated to have shut shop in little over a year, in what has been described as the biggest slump in automobile sales in India ever.

Besides the general slowdown pinching their pockets hard, companies have their own reasons for not participating in the event.

“Bajaj Auto does not participate in the (Auto) Expo and yet it has performed better than its peers this year. There is no direct co-relation to the footfalls gained at the stall at the Expo to actual sales in the market. In these trying times, it is better to use the given financial resources judiciously,” said a senior official from a Delhi-based company.

Organisers of the Auto Expo have seen public interest stagnate during its last edition in 2018. At that time, the event witnessed footfalls of 6.05 lakh, barely higher than the 6.01 lakh footfalls clocked in 2016. The mega event, which sees more than half a million footfalls, is held 40 km away from India’s capital at Greater Noida’s India Exposition Mart.

Living in the digital age has also brought its challenges with it. Most companies are feel that with an explosion of news media and bloggers and influencers covering every event live from the venue, visitors may not find it suitable to attend such events.

Costs also play a major role. A company on an average spends Rs 10 crore over seven days of its participation in the Expo. These include rear estate rentals, on display, shipping of vehicles and manpower, on accommodation of executives attending the event, food and beverage, etc.

Companies also spend lavishly on movie or sport celebrities, who charge anywhere between Rs 2-8 crore for an appearance. Virat Kohli, Akshay Kumar, Sachin Tendulkar, Priyanka Chopra, John Abraham, Shah Rukh Khan, Aalia Bhatt, Katrina Kaif and Ranbir Kapoor have been seen at various stalls in previous editions of the Expo.

Nevertheless, event organisers have something to cheer about. After a four year hiatus, Volkswagen is returning to the Expo along with group brand Skoda. Both companies will showcase SUV concepts. MG Motors will be the newest brand to debut at the Expo. Regulars like Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra will grace the event.

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First Published on Oct 7, 2019 08:09 am
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