When carmakers come to Delhi, even Pragati Maidan falls short of space

When Delhi's biggest exhibition centre — Pragati Maidan — came up in 1982, little did one know that the compound that is spread over 149 acres offering 72,000 square metres of exhibition space and parking capacity for over 1,000 cars, will ever face a space crunch. It did take sometime coming, but after 25 years, the incredible has happened. While all the glitz and glamour is there, this year's Auto Expo suffers from unavailability of space. So much so, that some of the stalls have been built on the lakes.

By whichever yardstick one measures by, the Auto Expo, which will get underway tomorrow, is the biggest automotive extravaganza that the country has ever seen. While participants and exhibitors have increased with every passing edition, this year will see 2,000 exhibitors comprising of 51 vehicle manufacturers and over 1,900 component, accessories and other manufacturers. As a result, joint organisers Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and Auto Component Manufacturers' Association (ACMA) had to work overtime and come up with innovative ideas to create 1,20,000 sq metres of exhibition space.

"There is no doubt that this is the biggest Auto Expo ever. There are many first-timers who had to be accommodated. Some manufacturers like Hyundai, who did not participate in the previous edition, are also back," said a SIAM official. "The delegations from abroad are also getting bigger and there is an acute shortage of space. We had to decline a lot of participants before the last date."

The excitement in the Expo is a direct reflection of the booming domestic auto sector. From just a handful of automakers a decade back, India has emerged as the market to be in and more and more automakers are entering the country. Lowering benchmarks like producing the cheapest car in the world with Tata's Rs 1 lakh car has created greater frenzy.

"The spotlight is well and truly on the Tata car which would be unveiled on Thursday. There will be as many as 25 launches during the course of the event and, who knows, we may pip the annual International Trade Fair in the number of footfalls at the end of the day," said CII deputy director general Gurpal Singh. Space constraints have worsened due to the size of the stalls getting bigger. Tata's, for example, have booked the largest stall ever, measuring an astounding 5,062 sq m for their 'small' car. Arch rivals Maruti Suzuki are also setting up a 4,500 sq m stall that will house a whole range of product offerings as well as the A-star concept that will see a global launch.

Things at the periphery of the Maidan are likely to be no better. The allotted car parking is going to fall way short of the requirement with auto companies themselves taking up most of that space. "Parking is going to be a big constraint and this is something which is of our own doing. The auto firms have taken up quite a few of the hangars for their own parking purposes," said ACMA executive director Vishnu Mathur.

Craving for more

Exhibitors Space

Tata Motors 5,062

Maruti Udyog 4,500

GM India 1,980

Honda Siel Cars India 1,950

Hyundai Motor India 1,827

Ashok Leyland 1,722

Volkswagen AG 1,550

Skoda Auto India 1,423

Bajaj Auto 1,393

M&M 1,125

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