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Imagenation

Electric future
Even as the coronavirus fear dampens the mood at Auto Expo 2020, the industry looks towards a greener future  

It is that time of the year when major automobile players come together to showcase their innovative line up of vehicles. Auto Expo 2020 is here to set the tone for automobile industry’s stakeholders. But thanks to the ongoing slowdown, the mood this time seems to be slightly somber. The industry is the worst hit of all and the ripple effect is evident in its flagship event.

Not just that, the 15th Auto Expo that is set to be dominated by the world’s leading manufacturer, China, will not be attended by the country’s representatives. And no points for guessing, it's due to coronavirus. In a statement issued by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), its president Rajan Wadhera made it clear that none of the stalls booked by the Chinese companies would be manned by anybody who has come to India recently from China. The Chinese have booked more than 20% of the total 40,000 sq m space of the Expo, with their top carmakers SAIC Motor, Great Wall and Haima making a debut at the show.

On the brighter side, the Expo will also witness at least 20 EV launches, the highest ever at the event. This points towards a future driven by low carbon emission goals. Besides launching India’s most affordable electric car eKUV at 825,000, M&M has also launched a futuristic sports EV concept — Funster — which flaunts a convertible roof. Other Indian carmarkers, Tata Motors and market leader Maruti Suzuki, are also displaying their future-preparedness with HBX and Futuro-e, respectively. Their ambition of moving towards an all-EV world is big, but domestic players face a major hurdle — lithium ion batteries still have to be imported from China. Moreover, there is a lack of efficient electric charging infrastructure, which is stopping many consumers from making the move.

While automakers seem charged to tackle these obstacles head on, they haven’t forgotten India’s obsession with SUVs, which seemed to be the other star of the show. With Kia Motors’ Seltors, Haval’s Concept H and Haval H9, MG Motors’ Hector, Hyundai’s Creta and many more, it looks like it’s going to be a year of electric vehicles and SUVs.

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