Thank the Lord that the Auto Expo is a bi-annual event, and doesn’t come every year. Sure, there’s no other time when we get quite this much action – but spare a thought for us poor folk who attempt to cover this mammoth event in its entirety.
We had a crew of about 15 people on the ground, running from pillar-to-post to bring you all the news as it happened – on the web, in print, in pictures, and on video. Short of carrier pigeons landing on your shoulder and ‘tweeting’ sweet nothings in your ear, we had it all! Frankly, I’m tired just thinking about it. I think I lost a couple of kilos just in the lead up to the event (and I can’t afford to lose even milligrams, leave alone full kilograms). You see, we were planning our own participation, creating the war plan for our coverage, and all the while covering the many events from manufacturers not taking part at the Expo but not willing to relinquish the limelight. And that’s to say nothing of those OEMs who were taking part, but still held press conferences in the days leading up to the event because they wanted more than just their fifteen minutes of fame!
But I have to say that a happy side-effect to all this mayhem – in addition to all the launches and reveals – is the ability to sit down with people from across the industry to get a real sense of where they feel we’re all headed. Individually, we sat down with two of the most celebrated designers in the world today – who both happen to work for Jaguar Land Rover – and we found that both Gerry McGovern and Ian Callum feel the same way about touchscreens as we do, which is to say that they too think that touchscreens can be overly complicated, distracting, and unsafe. Why not have a good old-fashioned knob to increase the volume of the stereo or the fan speed of the air conditioning, rather than having to tap through a menu within a sub-menu?
We also sat down with the R&D Head of Maruti-Suzuki, and found that they’re breaking new ground with the kind of design and development work they’re conducting in India – and not just for India but for the world market! We had a chat with the Head of Audi India, and he echoed our thoughts on the need for a long-term roadmap for the industry to follow to enable them to meet, and surpass, all the challenges thrown up by tighter emission norms and regulations. And, lastly, we had the privilege to meet with Mr. Saumitra Chaudhuri, former member of the Planning Commission, and architect of the Auto Fuel Vision and Policy 2025, as he put the diesel ban in the NCR and the odd-even rule into perspective for us. So, while you’re checking out all the glitz and glamour surrounding the product reveals, don’t forget to read about what the men and women behind the machines had to say...