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Motor Show in Delhi: Between the world of trade fairs and real mobility

2020-02-07T04:34:16.778Z

ZEIT ONLINE | News, backgrounds and debates



Delhi (dpa / tmn) - The Motor Show in Delhi (February 7th to 12th) is first a car show like any other: A lot of SUVs and especially electric cars are turning in the spotlight.

The questions, at least of the international trade fair visitors, are initially similar to those elsewhere: How much do manufacturers rely on battery-powered cars to mobilize the masses less polluting? But here is another question: Are there concepts in India that could also be fruitful in Europe?

Small cars are in demand

You can see electrically powered SUV studies such as the Indian roadster Mahindra Funster or the Tata Sierra. Apart from Mercedes, there is no luxury brand in the half-dozen halls. Engines with more than four cylinders are the absolute exception. On the other hand, small cars like the tiny limousine Hyundai Aura or the jacked up Renault Kwid in the format of the European Twingo come out big here in Delhi.

As long as you move around the exhibition center, the PS show fits well into the global picture. But already on the way to the parking lot, doubts multiply between dented small cars, rickety tricycles and stinking scooters - and after a few kilometers on the asphalt slopes with holes in the country, you can see that the fair doesn't have much to do with India's automotive reality.

The constant traffic jam must not hide the number of cars in the country: In Germany there would be 557 cars per 1000 inhabitants, says Jan Burgard from the strategy consultant Berylls. “The global average is 155, but only 25 in India.”

Studies by Skoda and Volkswagen

This year, the VW group in particular is very present in Delhi and, according to Skoda boss Bernhard Maier, is relying on a model offensive that should start with one SUV per brand.

Still referred to as studies, the focus in Delhi is on Skoda's Vision IN and VW's Taigun. Both are around 4.20 meters long and are produced in the country - with slimmed-down group technology and with local color. The decor in the IN interior is reminiscent of traditional Indian fabric prints. The central control element for the digital infotainment system is a column on the dashboard, which is inspired by an Indian diamond. Beneath it is a large, free-standing screen.

The cars are powered by a 1.5 liter engine with 110 kW / 150 hp in the Skoda and a three-cylinder with 1.0 liter displacement and 85 kW / 115 hp. There are no official statements about an offer outside of India. In corporate circles, however, there is always talk of the group also wanting to offer cheaper cars in Europe again - then the Vision IN could also become important there.

Low income sets limits

Although shorter than a VW Golf, the two SUVs in India already belong to the middle class. But the music plays in the league below. "Cars under four meters have a significant tax advantage here," VW representative Gurpratap Boparai calls one of the reasons for the large number of small cars. Another is the low average income. In a country where an industrial worker often doesn't earn more than 60 to 80 euros a month, a small car for the equivalent of 3500 euros is a luxury item. Little things like the Suzuki Alto or the Renault Kwid are a big step forward for many Indians.

At the latest when driving overland, you understand why this is so: There you see enough families who are five on a scooter. And at peak times, eight or ten passengers squeeze into the ubiquitous tuk-tuk taxis.

Charging infrastructure only under construction

But what about e-mobility? In the exhibition halls, it looks as if the spark could also jump in India. But even Rolls-Royce or Bentley are seen more often on the streets than Tesla, the market launch of the first reasonably affordable electric cars from local brands has just been announced at the Motor Show. There can be no talk of infrastructure either: there is talk of 2,600 charging stations in an area that is almost ten times the size of Germany - and these are not expected until the end of the year.

Source: zeit

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