Blog: Dave LeggettPostcard from India #4

Dave Leggett | 16 January 2004

I've learnt a new word here: prepone. It is the opposite of postpone and means to bring forward. So, the deputy prime minister's Auto Expo opening address was preponed yesterday, which means it happened at 9:30 am instead of 10:30 am and many people missed the ceremony as a result. He had to get away early apparently. The show itself was pretty busy and the show ground is huge, so I did a fair bit of walking. Good exercise and there's always something to see here when walking anywhere, believe me.

Tata launched an estate version of the Indica called Indigo Marina which is an interesting strategy. They opened up a new small SUV segment with the Safari and maybe they believe they can open up a whole new segment with the Indigo Marina. I haven't seen any estate cars on the roads here, so it's a new product concept.

While I was getting my ears bashed by someone covering Cher songs near the Tata stand I bumped into Paul Blokland and Fionna Prins. They've been living in Delhi and conducting automotive analysis for about eight years and I know Paul from a long way back. One thing they have been doing is looking at population census figures for india. They tell me that 54% of the Indian population - 500 million people - is under the age of 25. They've conducted a survey of new middle class consumers and one thing they found surprised me. Skoda is a brand that is highly sought and considered 'super trendy, great fun and extremely posh'. While Mercedes is perceived as the car which is driven by successful people, it is also considerd as a tad boring and is not trendy. Skoda is the car driven by 'young successful party animals'. Go Skoda!

Yesterday evening I went to a reception at the British High Commission (that's a British Commonwealth term for embassy) - there are some definite advantages in being part of an SMMT trade mission. A most agreeable occasion that gives you some insight into how British diplomats live. It's not a bad lifestyle but security seems to be a constant concern. The BHC is guarded by gurkhas (basically mercenaries in the British Army from Nepal). You don't mess with those chaps. After that there was another party at a posh hotel organised by the Assciation of Component Manufacturers of India (ACMA). Good crowd there and I tried the nation's favourite tipple - locally made whisky. Not bad I must say. And I heard quite a bit about the component industry here and outsourcing trends. The latest talk is of Indian component companies getting closer to Chinese ones. But there is some rivalry between India and China also of course. Must dash now. Bus to catch.


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