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by Matt Brogan

India’s Auto Expo will see global manufacturers showing off cheap compact cars with the hope to break into on of the few remaining growth markets.

Car sales are set to jump at least 16 per cent this year to 1.4 million vehicles in India which is the second most populous country in the World.

New models are waiting for the Delhi auto show to make their debut. The Delhi auto show could rival or even surpass the annual Detroit auto show in importance.

“The Indian auto industry and the Indian auto market have become internationally very important and therefore, no one can ignore this market,” said Mahindra & Mahindra’s automotive chief, Pawan Goenka, who is also the president of industry body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

“Even though the Detroit auto show immediately follows the Delhi auto show, there is full participation from all international companies and they are bringing in concept vehicles as well as launching brand new products.”

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Delhi Auto Expo first got global headlines when Tata Motors showed off its $2,500 Nano with the promise to bring it to the masses.

Toyota and GM will debut their own compact cars, both manufacturers are wanting a larger presence in India, one of the World’s few healthy auto markets.

Manufacturers are looking to ship cheap cars and components overseas and India is expected to become a crucial base for manufacturing small cars for the World.

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Forecasts for the Indian domestic passenger car sales are a rise of 14.5 per cent annually to 2.4 million cars by March 2014 with small cars leading the growth.

Toyota will unveil its new concept car known as EFC (Entry Family Car) at the Delhi show which runs from January 5th to 11th. The price of the car has not been announced but is expected to be its cheapest model.

Low cost cars are the key to gaining a foothold in new economies, a Toyota Corolla or Honda City would be considered a luxury item.

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“In any country, the base of the (income) pyramid is the biggest group,” said Osamu Suzuki, CEO of Suzuki Motor, parent of top Indian carmaker Maruti Suzuki India.

“Starting at the entry-price level was a successful strategy for us,” he said.

Maruti Suzuki has half the Indian market with cut price hatchbacks like the Maruti 800 and Alto. Three quarters of India’s car market is made up of cars shorter than four meters.

GM will be launching the new Chevrolet Beat, a compact hatchback designed for the Indian market and due for release in 2010. Maruti Suzuki is working on a compact multi-purpose vehicle concept known as Concept R3.




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