Delhi motor show is now in a purpose built Expo Centre two hours from the capital in Greater Noida

Delhi motor show is now in a purpose built Expo Centre two hours from the capital in Greater Noida

From the last event two years ago, you have to say the Delhi Auto Expo has moved up a notch.

It is now housed in a purpose-built exhibition centre - some distance outside the capital New Delhi in Greater Noida, but this is a growing area.

A bit like the India car business itself... growing, although perhaps not as fast as some industry execs expected, or hoped. India's population is close to China's 1.3bn but car sales have yet to see the sort of explosion experienced in the Middle Kingdom.

With sales of 17m plus, China has overtaken the US and Europe as the world's biggest car market and India's total of 3m last year looks, on the face of it, to be somewhat slovenly. Put that into perspective, however, and you see a market 1m vehicles ahead of the UK, supposedly the star performer in the EU.

Any way you look at it, 1m cars is a big number and the market is growing. It is expected to more than double within the next five years and carmakers are keen to tap into it for two reasons: local sales and a fairly cheap production base.

Import taxes on complete cars and other luxury goods in India are excruciating, up to 104% so you are basically doubling the price of a Jaguar or a Mini. It's easy to see why Tata Motors' Jaguar Land Rover is ramping up production in the country, as are the like of Daimler's Mercedes, Renault and Hyundai.

The potential is enormous. Maruti Suzuki, until fairly recently, has enjoyed a market share of more the 50% - 1.5m vehicles is not to be sneezed at. It has been way ahead of closest rival Hyundai which was at around 17%. Those stats are changing fast. Maruti dropped to around 43% in the last year and foreign brands are taking hold.

Premium brands are gaining while volume makers have a fight on their hands. Vikram Kirloskar, president of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, and vice-chairman of Toyota Kirloskar Motor, said: "The past 12 to 15 months were the worst ever period for the Indian automotive industry but we see a growth of 15% to 17% over the next 10 to 15 years."

Moving the show some two hours by road outside Delhi has not come without problems - particularly in terms of visitor numbers. In the centre of the capital the very much outdated show attracted huge crowds. In 2012, some 700,000 visitors passed through the doors making Delhi the world's second-largest motor show after Shanghai. However, even the organisers and car companies found the numbers difficult to control.

Greater Noida, on the outskirts, attracts more discerning visitors although some carmakers expressed concern over thinner numbers.

One area for concern among indigenous carmakers was recent NCAP reports over the safety of cars built by Indian makers.

Weak structures and a lack of airbags have seen five Indian car manufacturers awarded zero out of a possible five stars in NCAP's independent crash tests.

This is not an issue for international companies, such as Ford, Hyundai and Nissan who use India as a global production hub, but it is worrying for local carmakers with designs on internationalisation.

NCAP boss Max Mosley said: "India is now a major global market and production centre for small cars so it's worrying to see levels of safety that are 20 years behind the five star standards now common in Europe and North America."

Many entry level models sold in India do not come fitted with airbags while safety features are offered at a premium.