The return of Auto Expo 2023 – The Motor Show had greener, higher performance CVs dominate the floor. Ashish Bhatia took stock of the OEM displays to gauge the dominant trends.

The underpinnings of the Ashok Leyland H2- FCEV truck.

India Expo Mart at Greater Noida was abuzz again! Returning to the exhibition scene after a three-year hiatus, the Auto Expo 2023 – The Motor Show rose back up the charts to draw in stakeholders of the CV industry between January 11-18, 2023. Setting aside the lows of the Covid-19-induced hiatus, notwithstanding a fresh threat of the pandemic, the exhibition halls had CV players and their stakeholders put their best foot forward as they allayed fears. They came in with market-ready solutions and concepts, greener, higher in performance. The CV industry stepped into the business end of the current fiscal (FY2022-23) with buoyancy. Moving beyond electrification, there was ample for Natural Gas (NG) and Hydrogen fuel cell supporters to advocates of hybrids spread across the 64,000 sq. ft. exhibition expanse. The good-looking CVs hinted at sophistication akin to global markets. The OEMs offered advanced technology tuned to custom requirements across cargo and people movers. Connected Autonomous Shared and Electric (CASE) hit new highs too with the industry expected to settle in on L1-L2 ADAS and finding takers for telematics with assurance of higher efficiencies
From gig-economy two-wheeler to Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) going up to Medium and Heavy Commercial Vehicles (M&HCVs) including intra-city, inter-city buses, and first-, mid-, and last-mile transport solutions. Made possible by the suppliers and ancillaries who have upped their game too, it was a rather confident outing for the CV industry, majors and new entrants alike. The industry is expected to end the fiscal in spitting distance of the one million Total Industry Volume (TIV) mark. The call for zero emissions with market-ready solutions was stronger than before and government interventions were hailed as a step in the right direction. The industry sought more clarity on the technological road map from the decision-makers albeit. It was a show of global technology and innovation and the call for localisation with India as the global manufacturing front was at an all-time high.
At a point of disruption in how mobility is defined and delivered, organisers, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), Automotive Component Manufacturers Association (ACMA) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) accredited by The International Organisation of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA) left no stone unturned to disseminate the message of supporting the adaption of sustainable mobility solutions and the future course of development. The focus on cost reduction, enhancing quality and productivity to match global standards was there for all to see. The Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), it was clear, have shifted focus from acquisition-focused strategies to support the entire customer life cycle journey. The shift from selling vehicles to selling transport solutions is imminent led by CV majors showing the way forward.

Hardeep singh Puri, union Minister of Petroleum and natural Gas, Government of India, leading the IstEM.

Modular and Greener
With a strong focus on zero-emissions technology supporting modular power trains reliant driven by electrification on one end of the spectrum, and H2-FCEV and H2-ICE on the other end of the spectrum, the motor show had the technology and ecosystem startups and supplier turned OEMs outlining their range of products to support a myriad of customer requirements. The well-to-wheel approach in a circular economy and sustainable development was found to be a high priority area with concrete plans to realise it. The product mix covered a lot of ground from ground-up developments to Completed Built Up (CBU) units from the advanced markets plying under commercial trials in India. Localisation of power trains being pursued to attain the benefits of Economies of Scale (EoS). The whole is greater than the sum of parts and there were no two ways that the CV OEMs have found strong supplier partners at an early stage of development. This has led to an influx of superior and sophisticated CVs making their way into India. It opens doors for higher exports out of India to both developing and developed markets.

Vinod Agarwal, President at sIAM among other dignitaries, highlighted sIAM efforts to align with the government mission of building road safety awareness among the general masses.

Road safety drive
On the sidelines of the expo, SIAM set out to spread greater awareness of road safety among the visitors at Auto Expo. The apex body organised the ‘Surakshit Safar Pavilion’ to mark the national road safety week (January 11-17, 2023) in association with Rosmerta. Inaugurated by Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways of India, Government of India in the presence of Vinod Agarwal, President at SIAM among other dignitaries, the pavilion was used to highlight the efforts put in place by SIAM, to align with the government mission of building road safety awareness for the general masses. The SIAM president mentioned, “SIAM and the Indian auto industry have been committed to improving the road safety scenario in the country. A lot of work has been done on vehicular engineering, and now Indian vehicles are matching global standards.” “Now, there is a need to focus on other E’s as well of which education is critical as it helps to effect a behavioural change in road users, which can play a major role in reducing accidents. The Surakshit Safar Pavilion is one such initiative focusing on increasing public awareness about safety and seeing the success of the event, SIAM now plans to replicate this initiative throughout the country,” he informed.
The benefits of road safety were highlighted at the pavilion through a suite of simulator competitions, performances and photo booths. Stakeholders of road safety like Delhi Traffic Police, Centre of Excellence for Road Safety from IIT Madras, Indian Head Injury Foundation, Dr Shroff Eye Centre & Eicher Foundation, IVC Logistics – CMVR Compliant Logistics were among those highlighting exceptional work carried out in the field. Attention was drawn to good practices like the importance of helmets, the importance of wearing seat belts, and Good Samaritan law with a first responder also on display. To draw attention to the spurious parts business, an Asli Naqli (Be Genuine Buy Genuine), put up a fight against the illegal industry valued at an estimated Rs.25,000 crore. Karn Nagpal, President, of Rosmerta Technologies Ltd, stated, “At Rosmerta, we take pride in being perfectly aligned with the road safety initiatives of the Government of India, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways and playing our role in making Indian roads safer for the past 20 years. Our commitment to on-road compliance paves the path to seamless implementation of other road safety services like Automated Testing Stations (ATS) for vehicle fitness certification and Automated Driving Test Track (ADTT) for sensor and video analytics-based driving tests. Rosmerta’s contribution to road safety takes the next leap with eSIM technology for telematics and vehicle tracking ensuring V2X communications for nationally integrated transport solutions and safe journeys. As pioneers of mobility solutions, we strive to increase road safety and ease compliance throughout the complete life cycle of a vehicle from production to End of Life.” PK Banerjee, Executive Director SIAM opined that education is a critical enabler for improving road safety and together with OEMs the focus has been on imparting early education, beginning at the school level, so that safe driving practices are inculcated from an early age. The plan is to launch a pan-India initiative focused on educating school children across all levels about road safety. Some of the initiatives include standardised High Security Registration Plates (HSRP) and smart card-based VRC and DL, to link the vehicle identities and drivers for compliance and easier enforcement. It also paves the way for seamless implementation of the FASTags, automatic receipts and tolls.

Ethanol adoption
To amplify the government push for ethanol adoption in India, SIAM organised an International Symposium for Thriving Eco-Energy in Mobility (ISTEM). Focused on promoting ethanol as a sustainable fuel, the symposium sought to impart clarity on the transition. It was supported by national and international stakeholders of the ethanol economy and included ethanol producers and technology providers with global OEMs in attendance. Inaugurated at the hands of Hardeep Singh Puri, Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, the Government of India showcased the use of Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) and their future scope. SIAM and the US Grains Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) toward the promotion of higher ethanol blends in the Indian gasoline mix and its impact on the automobile industry. The MOU was signed by President, SIAM and Josh Miller, Chairman, USGC in presence of the Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Government of India and Gloria Berbena, Acting Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy. The Minister said, “The year 2006 is the time when the journey of Ethanol started. Brazil and the US were the only ones who had ethanol. Cut to the present times and I am glad that an MoU has been signed between India and the US council. Thanks to the combined efforts of the Auto industry and SIAM that India’s time to embrace ethanol, clean energy and biofuels has finally arrived. Domestic manufacturers must start making EVs and I have complete confidence that their efforts will be fruitful.”





India will adopt the pan India implementation of E20 in 2023 for vehicles to be material compliant, and in 2025 for vehicles to be fully E20 compliant. Companies including Toyota Kirloskar Motors (TKM), Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. (MSIL), Bajaj Auto Ltd., HPCL, IOCL, BPCL, and Oil India Ltd. were among the participants to showcase their flex-fuel technology. Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) UNICA and PRAJ Industries showcase their capabilities too with knowledge partners UNICA from Brazil and US grain council from US-supporting to spread ethanol knowledge to Indian customers. The SIAM President appreciated the role and vision of the US Council in developing long-term partnerships with Indian stakeholders, creating opportunities and adding value.


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