Despite it being an uneventful 12 months throughout and fraught with uncertainty, rather a lot appears to have transpired in the world of cars. Read on…
From high-profile launches and alliances to an entire manufacturing shutdown attributable to COVID-19, 2020 was a 12 months of extremes for the automotive industry. Here’s a look at the highlights:
Auto Expo 2020
While information of the COVID-19 outbreak spreading to different nations had already made headlines by then, Auto Expo 2020 went forward as deliberate. Brands comparable to Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Tata, Mahindra, Kia, Renault and Mercedes-Benz had been out in full power, as had been Volkswagen and Skoda who made their return to the occasion after a hiatus. The present additionally featured sprawling stalls from MG and Great Wall Motor (GWM) displaying a variety of fashions. That mentioned, notable names comparable to Honda, Toyota, BMW, Audi and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles selected to skip the 2020 version.
COVID-19 – From automobiles to PPE and back
By the following month, the COVID-19 outbreak had been declared a pandemic, and by the finish of March, India went into full lockdown, that means manufacturing amenities floor to an entire halt. For the first time ever, producers throughout the board reported 0 gross sales in the month of April as the complete nation stayed indoors.
But because it at all times does, the automotive industry discovered a means out. Manufacturers donated generously in the struggle in opposition to the pandemic, and lots of even assisted in the manufacturing of much-needed private protecting gear and ventilators. Once the lockdown was lifted, the industry was fast to get back on its toes.
BS6 emission norms set in
The change to BS6 was no small feat, with most carmakers efficiently making the transition effectively in time to fulfill the April 1 deadline. The transition to the extra stringent norms noticed various diesel engines get axed, the most notable of which was Fiat’s lengthy serving 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel, also known as the ‘national’ diesel engine. Additionally, massive names comparable to Maruti Suzuki, Volkswagen and Renault give up the diesel section altogether.
BS6 norms additionally resulted in the proliferation of the small turbo-petrol engine, with manufacturers comparable to Hyundai, Kia, Mahindra, Tata, Volkswagen, Skoda and Nissan providing it with various their fashions.
Lexus, Mercedes-AMG start native meeting
2020 noticed Lexus and Mercedes-AMG start native meeting of a few of their merchandise in India. Lexus rolled out the domestically assembled ES sedan early in the 12 months, whereas Mercedes began native meeting of the AMG GLC 43 Coupe – the first AMG to be ‘made’ in India – nearer to the finish of the 12 months. It’s secure to count on different fashions from Lexus and Mercedes-AMG to even be assembled in India in the future.
Hanging in the stability
Border skirmishes between the armed forces of India and China broken relations between the two nations, and as a direct end result, Great Wall Motor’s India plans, too. The carmaker – which was set to amass General Motors’ Talegaon plant and launch its first mannequin in 2021 – now finds its plans hanging in the stability as all investments from Chinese corporations have been placed on maintain. The firm had beforehand signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Maharashtra authorities, promising to speculate over Rs 7,600 crore in the nation in a phased method. Prevailing anti-China sentiments have additionally compelled different Chinese carmakers aspiring to arrange store in India to undertake a wait-and-watch technique.
What we misplaced in 2020
This 12 months additionally necessitated a good few goodbyes. After six profitable editions, Cartier pulled the plug on the Concours d’Elegance in India attributable to funds constraints and altering market priorities.
The BS6 emission norms noticed fashions comparable to the Toyota Corolla, Etios vary, Honda BR-V and Renault Captur bow out, and Tata shuttered its performance-oriented JTP division, marking the finish for the short-lived Tiago JTP and Tigor JTP.
The automotive world additionally misplaced some eminent personalities, together with racing legend Sir Stirling Moss and famend Porsche engineer Hans Mezger – the creator of the 911’s signature flat-six engine. The Indian auto industry, in the meantime, obtained a shock with the premature demise of BMW India head Rudratej Singh.
The highs of 2020
While it’s truthful to say 2020 was a deflating 12 months in some ways, it additionally introduced some highs value remembering. Market restoration was aided by a number of big-ticket launches, together with the second-gen Hyundai Creta, Kia Sonet, fifth-gen Honda City, new Hyundai i20 and the second-gen Mahindra Thar. The 12 months additionally witnessed the launch of three all-electric autos – the Tata Nexon EV, MG ZS EV and the Mercedes-Benz EQC – with extra to comply with in 2021.
Another spotlight in the 12 months was the opening of the 9.02km-long Atal tunnel – the world’s longest tunnel above 10,000ft – in Himachal Pradesh, and a profitable check of the Virgin Hyperloop high-speed transport pod with passengers on board.
There had been loads of thrilling bikes launched this 12 months, however 2020 additionally noticed the beginning of latest and extremely anticipated platforms. Things started with the KTM 390 Adventure, which not too long ago spawned the smaller 250 Adventure. Then, in late September, Honda revealed its a lot awaited Royal Enfield rival, the new CB350; this platform will undoubtedly beginning extra variants.
However, arguably the largest debut was of Royal Enfield’s new 350cc platform. Underpinning the Meteor 350, the new platform may even be utilized in the firm’s future fashions like the next-gen Classic 350, making this a make-or-break second for the firm.
New alliances solid
In January, Bajaj and Triumph formalised an alliance below which they may co-develop a variety of mid-capacity bikes starting from 200-700cc. Bajaj may even take over Triumph’s distribution actions in India at a later date.
In April, TVS acquired the iconic, however troubled British firm, Norton and a month later Ola Electric purchased out a Netherlands-based EV start-up Etergo. Ola is ready to speculate Rs 2,400 crore in an EV manufacturing plant in Chennai to supply electrical two-wheelers for the Indian market.
Last however not the least was Hero’s cope with Harley-Davidson to take over its India operations. Hero will take over the Harley gross sales and repair community and also will co-develop future mid-capacity bikes with the latter.
Big names roll out EVs
2020 noticed Bajaj and TVS enter the electrical scooter section with the launch of the Chetak and the iQube, respectively. Both have been designed and developed in-house, however sadly gross sales of each have restricted availability to date. Furthermore COVID-19 has created manufacturing points for the Bajaj.
Meanwhile, Ather Energy gained momentum this 12 months with the launch of the spectacular 450X. The firm additionally commenced increasing its community with the purpose of promoting its merchandise in 27 cities by Q1 2021.