Blog: Postcard from India #3
Dave Leggett | 15 January 2004
I'm posting this at 7:45am local time having just had a marvellous breakfast that included some spicy dishes and lots of watermelon juice. I'd better get a move on as I've a bus to Auto Expo to catch shortly. That CNBC Autocar India event I mentioned yesterday was well worth attending. I finally met the near legendary Hormazd Sorabjee who is publisher and editor of Autocar India as well as having several other strings to his bow. Interesting chap to talk to and very friendly. As were Deepesh Rathore and Tilak Swarup - the guys behind the just launched and rather good online newsletter called Auto Analyst India. Everyone I met was very familiar with just-auto and knew of me, which is a slightly odd but a nice feeling. It brings home just how much reach just-auto really has and also how many people read this column. Bit scary!
I ended the evening in a bar with a couple of very knowledgeable guys from TATA Autocomp Systems - Raman Nanda and Prashanth Nayak. People here seem to have a very good handle on the global auto industry and where India fits in and everyone I have met here has been very open and friendly.
By the way, the Honda City Car - which is a three box Honda Fit (Jazz) - was the big winner at the Award ceremony, which was held outdoors and was a pretty glitzy affair. If you watch CNBC you may see some coverage of it.
One thing that popped up in conversation yesterday was the long - almost indefinite - model cycles that apply to some models here. Conventional wisdom would suggest that the top selling Maruti 800, which is based on a circa 1980s Suzuki Alto, ought to be long overdue for replacement. But in fact, the next generation Alto sells as the Zen and Maruti also sells the current Alto and will be getting the next generation one also. Could it sell four generations of Alto? The 800 was tipped to be dropped but has had a new lease of life in the market with lower prices. The price point and the product hits a spot here. So, it could continue but no-one is certain. And the Morris Oxford-based Hindustan Ambassador hits the spot as a taxi (many in Delhi run on CNG) and will carry on for many years to come. But there are plenty of modern cars hitting the market here too.
I should get a look at some of them later at Auto Expo, which opens today.
And I'd better get a shift on and catch that bus.
I'm starting to get a small idea of the scale of things here in China, but really, I'm only scratching the surface of this vast country....
Given the startling complexity of obtaining a journalist visa for China - the code 'J2' is now indelibly stamped on my mind - it was with some surprise how swiftly I managed to sail through airport im...