After fighting through the sea of camera-wielding car enthusiasts clutching their bags filled with corporate gifts to meet with Anand Mahindra, vice-chairman of the Mahindra group, it was difficult to argue with his rosy view of India’s car industry.
“Just look at all these people,” said Mahindra. “If these crowds translate into market appetite, it’s not much of a slowdown,” he added, shaking his head at the view from a glass-walled office high above the teeming masses at the India Auto Expo on Friday.
Mahindra has reason to be cheerful. Sales of cars by his group’s autos arm have remained strong this year. But he wasn’t the only executive shrugging off a slump in India’s car industry with glib comments about the sharp elbows of hundreds of thousands of excited punters that thronged the India Auto Expo this weekend.
The data is much less encouraging. Come April, the same executives could likely be digesting a year that saw sales volumes fall. Just a year previously, they were toasting 30 percent growth. But the Auto Show, held every two years in the capital, didn’t give the impression of an industry filled with ideas to tackle the slide.
SUVs, green technology vehicles and cutting-edge concept cars stole the headlines and drew in the crowds, aside from the free calendars and the chance to catch a glimpse of a Bollywood star or two.