ACMA's Vinnie Mehta: "We have one of the highest exhibitor responses this year, despite the downturn."

by Mayank Dhingra 30 Jan 2020


With over 1,500 participants representing 20 countries, the Auto Expo 2020 will be a tech tour de force for the component industry. Vinnie Mehta, Director General, Automotive Component Manufacturers Association (ACMA) says the entire complexion of the show is technology-oriented, with the focus firmly on safety, emissions and innovation.

How many exhibitors are expected this year at the Components Show 2020?
We have about 1,500 participants this year, including players from 20 countries. There will be eight international pavilions too. While some foreign companies will probably be spread out, many of them have chosen to stay within a country pavilion.

Which country do you see having the maximum participation?
It will be China which has the maximum representation, it has always been like that. Maybe, this time they are more motivated because there are some 6-7 Chinese companies (OEMs) which are going to be investing in India. But that apart, you'll have Germany, UK, Taiwan, Canada, and Korea — quite a few of them.

From a foreign country pavilion perspective, technology is one area where Indian companies, if I may say so, are not so self-sufficient. Hence, it offers them a great opportunity to showcase their technologies that are available.

What is the underlying theme for Auto Expo Components Show 2020 and what can visitors expect?
The entire theme for Auto Expo this time around is 'Technovation', essentially meaning technologies for the future. The entire automotive industry is transitioning and by squeezing the time to move to BS VI, India has done something which is very remarkable. While Europe took at least 10-12 years from Euro 4 to Euro 6 and China had to defer China 5 twice, between 2017 and 2020, we have actually skipped a generation from BS IV to BS VI. I think that is something great to showcase.

Moreover, there are many upcoming regulations on safety, for instance ESC and also those which have already been mandated such as ABS, CBS, seatbelt reminder and overspeeding alarm, among others. These are a plethora of safety-related technologies; while I do not know how much of it would be displayed this year, there will be a lot of focus on safety technologies including that on external lighting solutions as well.

The whole complexion of the show will be technology-oriented and that's the theme, and that's what we expect everyone to show.

Now since BS VI transition is almost done, do you think technologies in the vehicle electrification space will majorly dominate the products on display?
That could be one of them. What we are also attempting to bring is a pavilion called 'EVs, Start-ups and Innovation' and we hope component manufacturers will come forward and showcase some of their prowess in this area. Yes, electrification, of course, is one of the subjects that even the government is very keen that the industry moves towards. So, we are trying our best to push and hopefully, there will be quite a few players to showcase their technological advancement.

When you say a pavilion focused on start-ups, is that going to be about those in the components space?
As the start-up ecosystem is evolving in the country, what we are largely seeing is service-oriented companies coming up such as those offering delivery services, e-commerce and merchandise. I'll be very happy to see a lot of technology development on the start-up front and that is what the industry is interested in.

And, from our (ACMA's) perspective, we are very keen on automotive technology development. So, we would like to host start-ups which are into that space, especially, component technology.

For a few editions, we have been seeing some theme-based pavilions such as the ACMA Safer Drives. Will it make its presence felt this year as well?
Yes, Safer Drives will always be there as safety is a low-hanging fruit in the sense that while it's a very deep subject, now we have moved to a situation wherein even the common man is very conscious of the fact that one needs to be safe and follow road safety rules and regulations. Simple concepts such as wearing a seatbelt are getting ingrained into our psyche and we will continue with the ACMA Safer Drives pavilion.

Moreover, Safer Drives will be a common feature not just for the Auto Expo but also an ongoing 10-city campaign where we will spread awareness in smaller pockets. We will sensitise people and communities such as technicians and mechanics on safety issues and best practices, but largely from the perspective of using genuine components. While most of the safety-related subjects deal with angles of active and passive safety systems, what gets largely ignored is what's underneath the bonnet. One needs to make sure that only genuine replacement parts are being used during repair and maintenance of a vehicle.

We saw a lot of companies take concrete steps against counterfeiting last year. ACMA too had come up with its Asli-Naqli campaign a few years ago. What's the latest update on it?
The Asli-Naqli campaign has metamorphosed into what we now call the ACMA Safer Drives. We did not want to limit its reach by being misunderstood as ACMA driving a business agenda and people not being able to associate with the safety aspect of it. So, that is the reason why we rechristened it and named it Safer Drives because the intent was to also make sure that every vehicle driver and also the passengers and pedestrians stay safe. We wanted to bring home this point that if you buy genuine, then, everyone on the roads remains safe.

Will the kick-off for the 10-city campaign happen at the Auto Expo?
No, this is part of our ongoing campaign. Year on year, we keep on doing this, and this year, we will be undertaking the activities at the Auto Expo along with 10 more cities.

With the renovation of some parts of Pragati Maidan having been completed, what new facilities in terms of access and reach do we expect at this year's event?
There is a set of new halls that have been constructed — Hall Nos. 3-5. The first positive is that everything now will be under one roof. These three halls are contiguous, so if one opens the partitions, it's one big hall. The roofs are 10-metres each so, it's a very big hall in that sense.

That element of your legs going wobbly when you enter Pragati Maidan is not going to be there anymore. So, you'll be under one roof and that's what we wish to deliver — that's the USP this time.

What is also promised is that two new entrances will be created on the 'Bhairon Road'. The exhibition venue will be within 200-metres walking distance of these entrances and thus, it should be very convenient for everyone.

What kind of space has been allocated to organise the Components Show?
We have been allocated 56,000 square metres of space (gross area) and about 27,000 square metres in net area. It is one of the highest ever at Pragati Maidan because now these are new straight halls and thus, the efficiency of allocation is very high. Earlier, there was a lot of loss of space and now, the usage efficiency of space has become much higher.

What has been the industry's response to participating in Auto Expo 2020, given the prolonged downturn in the economy and the sector per se?
We have one of the highest responses despite the downturn, which reflects the resilience of the industry that it is upbeat about things turning better. From a feel- and-spirit perspective, we are overbooked and there is still pipeline.

So, is it a given that companies which have been with you all these years have continued to stick around and be exhibitors this time as well?
Largely there would be, barring one odd company, which makes its strategic decisions. We are a B2B industry and some of us may choose to decide that they don't require to do a full-blown exhibition. It is up to the individual company as to how they want to project their image and handle corporate perception.

Now that you have some assessment of the refurbished venue, once it's complete, would you be keen to see the Motor Show and Components Show reuniting at Pragati Maidan next time?
I would leave it to what the industry wants. The whole issue is that one of the reasons why we are split is because there is no such one venue available for us to be together. So, if there is a single venue available, while it makes great sense, we would need to streamline the visitors accordingly. The vehicles show is a B2C show and attracts children and common people who influence decision making, while we are a B2B show and our customers are mainly procurement and technology people. So, only if we are able to channelise customers appropriately and give value to the industry at the end of the day, it makes sense, otherwise it can create a big chaos.

(This interview was first published in the February 1, 2020 issue of Autocar Professional)

Also read: Auto Component Expo 2020 to showcase 1,500 companies from 20 countries

SIAM’S Rajesh Menon: ‘The auto industry is putting its best foot forward to match the nation’s aspiration.’