Just prefer it was for the remainder of the planet, 2020 was a year of extremes for the automotive enterprise, too. We witnessed issues beforehand unimaginable – carmakers having to close down manufacturing and as an alternative make private protecting gear and ventilators; passenger car gross sales enduring a horrific fall and rising as soon as once more (with a number of four-wheeler producers registering their best-ever numbers); the launch of India’s most inexpensive SUV within the type of the Nissan Magnite, and the nation’s costliest SUV within the type of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge.
Despite the pause enforced by the COVID-19 pandemic, this was nonetheless an action-packed year for the auto trade. Here’s a take a look at the highlights.
Auto Expo – No lull earlier than the storm
Skoda’s pavilion on the 2020 Auto Expo.
While information of the COVID-19 outbreak spreading to different international locations had already made headlines by then, the 2020 Auto Expo went forward as deliberate. Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Tata Motors, Mahindra, Kia, Renault and Mercedes-Benz had been out in full pressure as standard, and Volkswagen and Skoda made their return to the biennial motor present. That stated, notable names corresponding to Honda, Toyota, BMW, Audi and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles selected to present the 2020 version a skip. However, this year’s present additionally featured MG and Great Wall Motor, each of which had sprawling stalls that includes a plethora of fashions.
COVID-19 – A useless finish averted
Not lengthy after the 2020 Auto Expo ended, it turned clear the COVID-19 outbreak had snowballed right into a pandemic, and international lockdowns had been the one solution to include the unfold of the virus. India went into full lockdown in direction of the tip of March, and that meant manufacturing services that had been beforehand operating around the clock floor to an entire halt. If low gross sales within the month of March had been a punch to the photo voltaic plexus, what adopted in April was an uppercut from hell. For the primary time ever, producers reported zero gross sales throughout the board because the nation stayed indoors.
Face shields being manufactured at Skoda Auto Volkswagen’s plant.
But because it at all times does, the automotive trade discovered a method out; a path to assist avert this useless finish. Not solely did producers donate generously within the battle towards the pandemic, but in addition took steps to assist out with the manufacturing of much-needed private protecting gear and ventilators. As the nation slowly emerged from the lockdown, manufacturing strains had been buzzing with exercise as soon as once more, and slowly however steadily, gross sales recovered within the second half of the year, in a vogue extra spectacular than most anticipated.
BS6 emission norms – Breathe straightforward
After a four-year-long dash, carmakers had been capable of make the transition to BS6-compliant autos by the April 1 deadline. In such a brief timeframe, producers upgraded a variety of their engines to satisfy the extra stringent norms, which carry a major discount in tailpipe emissions (particularly for diesel automobiles) but in addition drove car costs larger, as upgrading a diesel engine to satisfy the brand new norms is a posh and costly course of.
As a direct consequence of the BS6 norms coming into impact, a variety of diesel engines made an exit, most notable of which was the tip of the highway for Fiat’s 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel, sometimes called the ‘national’ diesel engine. Big names corresponding to Maruti Suzuki, Volkswagen and Renault give up the diesel section altogether, whereas Tata Motors, Hyundai, Kia and Mahindra selected to remain put and strengthened their diesel portfolio.
BS6 norms additionally resulted within the proliferation of the small turbo-petrol engine. Hyundai, Kia, Mahindra, Tata, Volkswagen, Skoda and Nissan have already got small-capacity turbo-petrol engines on supply with their fashions, and Renault and MG will quickly be part of them with their upcoming turbo-petrol SUVs.
Lexus and Mercedes-AMG – Luxury, made in India
After years of hypothesis, Toyota’s luxurious car arm Lexus introduced early in 2020 that it was beginning native meeting of its fashions at Toyota’s Bidadi plant. The firm launched its first domestically assembled product – the ES 300h – on January 31. Earlier accessible in a single variant priced at Rs 59.95 lakh, the CKD operation meant costs of the ES had been lowered considerably, starting from Rs 51.90 – 56.95 lakh, undercutting its established rivals.
The first domestically assembled AMG, the GLC 43 Coupe.
Closer to the tip of the year, Mercedes-Benz India introduced its determination to start native meeting of a few of its high-performance AMG fashions at its facility in Chakan, close to Pune. The first ‘made-in-India’ AMG was the facelifted GLC 43 Coupe, which was launched at Rs 76.70 lakh, roughly Rs 2 lakh pricier than the pre-facelift mannequin – which was a full import – launched in 2017.
Running right into a Great Wall
The begin of 2020 was shiny for China’s Great Wall Motor. On January 17, Great Wall introduced its determination to take over General Motors’ Talegaon plant, the place it might arrange operations and start manufacturing autos for the Indian market. At the 2020 Auto Expo, Great Wall revealed its plans to launch its first mannequin in 2021, and even signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Maharashtra authorities, promising to take a position over Rs 7,600 crore within the nation in a phased method.
Great Wall Motor’s Haval model of SUVs at Auto Expo 2020.
However, border skirmishes involving China and India’s armed forces threw a spanner within the works. All funding from Chinese firms – together with Great Wall Motor – was placed on maintain, and at the moment, it’s unclear if Great Wall will have the ability to start operations subsequent year as initially deliberate. The anti-China sentiments prevailing within the nation have additionally compelled different Chinese carmakers aspiring to arrange store in India – corresponding to Chery Automobile and Changan Auto – to undertake a wait-and-watch technique.
No present, no go
With massive public gatherings now a digital no-no due to COVID-19, the way forward for motor reveals seems bleaker than ever. Participating in motor reveals has develop into more and more unfeasible for a number of producers, and the pandemic resulted within the plug being pulled on most main auto reveals this year, together with Geneva, Detroit and Paris. It is already identified there will probably be no Geneva motor present in 2021 both, and Lamborghini declared in mid-2020 it might not be part of any motor reveals going ahead. Most carmakers have now gotten a cling of digital world premieres, and till the virus is eradicated in totality, bodily motor reveals will possible stay an unattractive proposition for many.
Motor reveals just like the one in Geneva (pictured) will probably be on maintain within the close to future.
What we misplaced in 2020
This year additionally necessitated a good few goodbyes. After six profitable editions, Cartier introduced it was pulling the plug on the Cartier Concours d’Elegance – the present that put India on the worldwide stage for classic and traditional concours – because of finances constraints and a change in market priorities.
The 2019 version of the Cartier Concours d’Elegance.
The implementation of the BS6 emission norms meant the Toyota Corolla, Etios vary, Honda BR-V and Renault Captur had been all discontinued, and in what got here as a jolt to fans, Tata Motors determined to down the shutters on its performance-oriented JTP division, phasing out the entertaining Tiago and Tigor JTP.
Both JTPs got here powered by a 114hp, 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine.
This year, the automotive world additionally misplaced some key personalities. Racing legend Sir Stirling Moss handed away early in 2020, and the Indian auto trade obtained a shock with the premature demise of BMW India head Rudratej Singh. Hans Mezger – famend Porsche engineer and the creator of the 911’s signature flat-six boxer engine – additionally handed away.
The highs of 2020
While it’s truthful to say 2020 was a deflating year in some ways, it additionally introduced some highs price remembering. Market restoration was aided by a number of big-ticket launches, together with the second-gen Hyundai Creta, Kia Sonet, fifth-gen Honda City, new Hyundai i20 and the second-gen Mahindra Thar, the primary unit of which was auctioned for an astronomical Rs 1.11 crore for a very good trigger. This year additionally witnessed the launch of three all-electric autos – the Tata Nexon EV, MG ZS EV and the Mercedes-Benz EQC – and plenty of extra are to observe in 2021.
The second-gen Creta arrived early in 2020.
Another spotlight within the year was the opening of the 9.02km-long Atal tunnel – the world’s longest tunnel above 10,000ft – in Himachal Pradesh. Towards the tip of 2020, Virgin Hyperloop took a giant step ahead in its bid to make high-speed public transport a actuality, efficiently conducting first Hyperloop runs with human passengers within the take a look at pod.
The Atal Tunnel is known as for former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
2020 was additionally an necessary year for us at Autocar India. Early within the year, we set the document for the longest distance lined in an electrical car on a single cost within the MG ZS EV; revealed our 250th situation and likewise celebrated our 21st anniversary with an action-packed situation. 2020 additionally witnessed the arrival of Autocar India’s sister model What Car? India, which supplies credible automotive info in Hindi on digital platforms.
We went 563km on a single cost, setting a brand new document.
2021: A year of resurgence?
It would solely be wishful considering to hope merely turning the calendar over will make all issues that cropped up in 2020 vanish in a single day. The pandemic continues to be removed from beneath management, and regardless of encouraging progress being made with vaccines across the globe, the consequences of the pandemic will, in all probability, proceed to linger for years to return, doubtlessly altering sure facets of the automotive panorama perpetually. That stated, carmakers are aiming to flood the market with new choices within the coming year, and there are over 75 new autos slated for launch in 2021, all of which we’ve compiled in our December 2020 situation. And whereas there aren’t any ensures, we hope 2021 seems to be a much more memorable year than this one.
Key launches of 2020
January 15 – Audi Q8
January 21 – Hyundai Aura
January 22 – Tata Altroz
January 23 – MG ZS EV
January 28 – Tata Nexon EV
January 29 – New Mercedes-Benz GLE
January 30 – New Range Rover Evoque
February 3 – New Audi A8 L
February 5 – Kia Carnival
February 26 – Toyota Vellfire
March 6 – Volkswagen TiguanAllhouse
March 17 – New Hyundai Creta
March 18 – Volkswagen T-Roc
May 8 – BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe, M8 Coupe
May 26 – Skoda Karoq
June 11 – New BMW X6
June 17 – New Mercedes-Benz GLS
July 15 – New Honda City
July 16 – Audi RS7 Sportback
August 27 – Audi RS Q8
September 18 – Kia Sonet
September 23 – Toyota Urban Cruiser, new Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe
October 2 – New Mahindra Thar
October 8 – MG Gloster, Mercedes-Benz EQC
October 15 – BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, Land Rover Defender
October 16 – Audi Q2
November 3 – BMW X3 M
November 5 – New Hyundai i20
December 2 – Nissan Magnite
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