Despite the threat of Coronavirus looming large, there was nothing to stem the Chinese domination at the Auto Expo 2020. It goes without saying that, without the Chinese presence, the Auto Expo would not have happened in the first place.
A lacklustre year for the Auto Industry and the huge costs in upgrading to BS6, along with the cost of participating at the Expo — which runs into crores — were why more than half the car-makers stayed away. Also, there was hardly any presence of two-wheeler makers this year.
Enter the cash rich and market hungry Chinese, who laid out a lavish spread for the Indian market. Despite falling sales, the Indian auto market holds huge potential and it is no surprise that the are wooing us.
The Chinese presence was defined by three big automotive groups: SAIC which owns MG brand, Great Wall Motors and Haima.
The one that has made the biggest splash was been Great Wall Motors. It made a huge 1 billion USD investment and also took over the old GM plant as it plans to make many more SUVs under the 'Haval' name.
However, GWM was not been the only new car-maker from China. There was also Haima Automobile, showed off two of its cars. Just like GWM, Haima is interested in coming to India but is in an early round of talks to zero in on a plant location and a timeline for the launch. We expect them to come to India in two years’ time.
As we wait for GWM and Haima, one big Chinese major has already created a buzz and captured a sizeable portion of the market with its new products. We are talking about MG, which is owned by SAIC, of course.
At the Expo, MG had one of the biggest pavilions and showcased a variety of cars cherry-picked from the vast SAIC product portfolio.
The common themes running through all the Chinese car-makers were premium design, features, technology, but not at a premium cost. The idea of disrupting the market and luring away car-buyers who otherwise would be loyal to other brands with aggressive pricing is something this new crop of Chinese car-makers practice. And they seem to be getting successful in India.
Without doubt, the biggest threat to the Hyundai group (Hyundai+ Kia) along with Maruti and Tata/Mahindra has to be these three. Stealing the limelight at the Expo is the first step.