Greater Noida: It was a day of new launches of premium motorcycles, cars and trucks with hot celebrities lending a shine at the Auto Expo 2016 here on Thursday, but it was the ministers who added spice on the second day of the fair.
Pepping up the automobile industry was union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari who spoke of the government's plans to phase out old vehicles. But Heavy Industries Minister Anant Geete's talk of "action" was certainly not music to the ears of Volkswagen Group India officials.
Geete said the German car maker Volkswagen has admitted its cars do not comply with India's emission norms, and action will follow after a written undertaking from the company.
This is in variance with what the company has claimed.
Bollywood star John Abraham during the Auto Expo
"They have (Volkswagen) said that they do not comply. They are also giving this in writing. We will take further action after that," the minister said at Auto Expo here, after visiting the exhibits of the German automaker here.
"We have already asked them to recall the vehicles. When we will get a response in writing, we will propose further action," Geete said.
Formally inaugurating the mega auto show, Gadkari said: "A note on scrapping of old vehicles is being put up for the cabinet's consideration by the end of the month."
On scrapping of old polluting vehicles, the minister had earlier proposed that owners could be given an incentive of up to Rs.30,000 for discarding small vehicles like cars.
A ministry source told IANS that in view of the union Budget coming up later this month, Gadkari has written to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley that the budget should offer an excise rebate for new cars bought in exchange of a 15-year-old car.
At the auto fair, it was the second consecutive day of launched of new models by vehicle makers and show-casing of products by the component makers.
Compact SUVs and multi-utility vehicles (MUV) seem to be the flavour this year. More than a dozen such vehicles are making their debut as part of 80 new offerings that the 13th edition of the Auto Expo is promising to some 600,000 visitors expected till February 9.
One example would be the Mahindra Aero XUV which was showcased in front of the media on Thursday. An in-house Mahindra design, the SUV is powered by a mHawk 210 HP engine which houses a Next Gen turbo boost, delivering high torque.
Maruti Suzuki India unveiled Concept Ignis and Concept Baleno RS and also unveiled the 1.0 Boosterjet direct injection turbo engine.
The firm also showcased its new-generation platform which is lighter, but also more rigid than conventional platforms. It enables the vehicle to balance safety, fuel efficiency and superior driving performance.
Japanese auto maker Nissan said it will start selling GT-R sports car from this September onwards while the new X-Trail Hybrid crossover will be in India before the end of this fiscal.
"Bringing these two standout models to India shows Nissan is a brand going places. Nissan GT-R and X-Trail Hybrid each have their own strengths as great examples of Nissan engineering and technological expertise," said Nissan India Operations president Guillaume Sicard.
Showing off its new car Mustang and the all-new Endeavour, Ford India said the former will go on sale in India in 2016.
On its part, Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) unveiled the fourth generation of Prius while Volkswagen showed an upgraded version of Polo the GTI, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) India launched the Fiat Punto Pure, a 5-door hatchback which will be available in petrol and diesel engine variants.
Commercial vehicles major Tata Motors Ltd showcased its new range of medium and heavy commercial vehicles under the brand SIGNA with newly designed cabin.
The company also unveiled the ULTRA 1518, an all new-production ready variant of the ULTRA range of intermediate and light commerical vehicles.
High powered motorbike company Triumph Motorcycles India showcased three new models - Street Twin (900cc/Rs.6.9 lakh) and two 1,200cc T120 (Rs.8.7 lakh), and Thruxton R (price to be announced soon).
Component makers Pricol and Eaton showcased their latest product lines.
The show, open for public from February 5 to 9, is scheduled to witness 92 launches and unveilings which would include more than 20 global debuts.