Our Man in India nominates Fords EcoSport launch as the highlight of Auto Expo 2012

Our Man in India nominates Ford's EcoSport launch as the highlight of Auto Expo 2012

The Auto Expo in Delhi in many ways is a microcosm of India - a country that seems to be outgrowing itself.

As industry presses ahead and the car market booms, the infrastructure is struggling to keep pace.

The show halls are full with the latest models from all the manufacturers but the show site is crumbling around it. Regular attendees complain that the organisation and the site have not improved since the Delhi show first started in the mid-1990s.

As well as the domestic carmakers, those in attendance included BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Audi, Renault, Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Nissan, and Hyundai. Many of them now with manufacturing plants in the country and most bringing in top executives to promote their brands.

And with good reason: the car market is booming. While Europe struggles, 2.5m cars were sold in India last year, up 30% over 2010 despite a recent downturn due to rises in interest rates and more expensive finance.

It's not just cheap cars either. The luxury segment is booming and observers here say this is one reason why Tata's Nano budget car has not had the success the company expected - buyers are leapfrogging it into more expensive models.

With more cars being sold so the congestion gets worse because the road infrastructure just cannot cope. In Delhi, car parks are almost non-existent while the government is only just getting round to building major highways north-south and east-west to link the main cities.

Star of the show? Probably the Ford EcoSport, the Delhi show's first true global unveil. It looks good and is a car that will eventually be sold all around the world, highlighting Ford boss Alan Mulally's claim that India will play a pivotal role in the company's global ambitions.

Another smart local newcomer is Maruti Suzuki's XA Alpha Concept, a B-segment SUV with a look of the Land Rover Evoque about it.

There's no doubt that alongside China, India is where the growth is for the car industry. What it needs is a better showcase.

Full coverage here