Auto shows

The displays at the Auto Expo motor show held every two years in India is a matter of great interest to everyone in the region interested in automobiles and auto technology. This Expo has been a big event since it began in 1996 at a time when modern cars and bikes were being made or assembled in India for the first time. Much has happened in these 22 years. Environment concerns made 2-stroke engines history and low sulphur fuels have greatly lowered automotive emissions. But it is still a very concern that is reflected in the many advances in technologies to make pollution free electric vehicles a reality.

Visitors to the recent expo were however first drawn to the new cars on display despite the distraction of attractive models showcasing them. As usual Maruti Suzuki had a huge display that included their latest itineration of the popular Swift hatchback, a new Futura S-crossover and a updated Brezza SUV. Across the hall was the new Honda Amaze small saloon and the petrol and diesel Civic large saloon that may be seen again after a short absence. Not to be outdone Toyota displayed their Yaris a small sedan that competes with the Honda City and Hyundai Verna. Hyundai had a big display that included a stylish new Kona SUV and a bright new i20 Elite with headlights highlighted in ceramic white similar to that of the Tata Nexon. Tata Motors was understandably proud that this Nexon had been awarded the Car of the Year and also showcased a very interesting H5X SUV concept. A new automaker was Kia of Korea who displayed 16 very interesting models.

SUVs were there in abundance including an open top M&M TUV300 stinger but Renault displayed an amazingly sleek Trezor sport saloon with an even more amazing top that lifted up from the engine compartment to the boot to allow entry for passengers and baggage. Renault is the largest producers of electric cars in Europe and their small Zoe with a huge range of 320-kms is their top seller. The large number of electric cars displayed showed that the auto industry is taking the electric option very seriously.

Better technologies are now offering lithium-ion batteries capable of driving a car 300-km or more but these and the imported motors make electric cars very expensive so the Government will have to offer a customs duty and tax holiday as well as an infrastructure of charging points if electric cars are to be successful. London allows electric cars into the city centre without a congestion charge and also provides charging points in their parking lots. Electric cars have zero emissions and are much more energy efficient than petrol or diesel engines that have to waste 60 per cent or more of their power priming the cylinders for the power stroke. All the bus makers showcased their electric vehicles and Tata Motors offered an option of a smaller battery set that was sufficient for typical short routes at the end of which their depots could quickly replace the battery sets for the next leg of the journey. There are also flash charging options for fast charging.

Several luxury cars were also on display with Mercedes Benz and BMW that displayed their cars and SUVs as well as their range of cute Minis as well as their formidable big motorcycles. They also displayed a fascinating electric i3S car.

The author is the region’s most celebrated automobile columnist