Our year-ending issue is always fun to put together. It’s also quite enlightening to sit down with the leaders of the automotive industry towards the close of the calendar year. And it’s fun despite the fact that we swap our helmets and racing suits in exchange for our best boardroom attire – in an attempt to look the part while handing out our ‘Best of 2017’ awards to the worthy recipients.
With 57 contenders vying for a spot in the ‘top-ten,’ it was exceptionally hard fought this year – making this year’s winners a truly exceptional bunch! One benefit of recognising excellence in the industry is the chance to sit down with the top managements of these automakers to get a real sense of how they view their prospects going forward. And while the industry expects to see growth in the coming year, no one expects an easy ride – especially in light of tough new regulations that are imminent, and more that are expected in the coming year.
The industry continues to maintain that they’re ready and willing to meet any and all regulations – no matter how stringent – as long as there’s a clear roadmap to follow. The 2030 target is an aggressive one, but a commendable one all the same. It puts India on the map and positions the country as a progressive and forward-looking market. But, for this vision to become reality, the availability of electric vehicles is just one piece of the puzzle. Stability of the grid, a comprehensive charging infrastructure, and a market of buyers who are willing to pay the price for such vehicles are the other key components – the absence of any one of which could lead to a scenario that jeopardises an industry that contributes almost 10% to the country’s GDP.
The air in the capital, and other parts of the country, is toxic – there’s no doubt that we’re dealing with a public health emergency. But if we can’t even figure out a way of stopping a handful of farmers in-and-around the National Capital Region from burning their spent crop, can we really say that we’re serious about combatting pollution? Or is all this talk about cleaning up the environment just an eyewash? Is the administration simply talking tough and targeting one particular industry because it’s the low hanging fruit?
To really tackle the problem we need unprecedented bipartisan political action, which is a step that no political party wants to take because they can’t find a way to spin that into an electoral victory. So, until the environment becomes an issue that wins and loses elections, expect a lot of talk but not much action.