In order to attract tech-savvy millennials, the industry body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), organiser of this year’s Auto Expo, has tied up with social media giant Facebook to live-stream content on its Facebook Watch and Instagram IGTV platforms. This will allow social media users to keep track of new launches and the latest technologies at the Auto Expo.

The six-day event, from February 7-12, is likely to see around 50 new launches. Even for those attending the event, there will be dedicated Instagram booths for augmented reality (AR)- and virtual reality (VR)-based experiences built around auto launches. SIAM feels that this will not just bring alive the event experience at the expo, but also take it beyond the confines of the venue to auto enthusiasts across the country.

Through this, Facebook wants to reduce consumer friction across the purchase journey, as the social network is expected to influence nearly half of the purchases of both four-wheelers and two-wheelers in the next two years. A joint report by Facebook and auditing firm KPMG says nearly 8 in 10 four-wheeler purchases and 7 in 10 two-wheeler purchases will be influenced by smartphones by 2022. “This makes it imperative for automotive marketers to devise their strategies keeping in mind that mobile will be the engine that will drive their growth,” Sandeep Bhushan, director at Facebook India and South Asia, said.

SIAM president Rajan Wadhera seems to agree. “As we enter a new decade of market growth, consumer behaviour, and decision-making, it is important that the automobile industry takes a lead in understanding and engaging with our present and prospective customers better. Hence, the partnership with Facebook is a natural fit. They are the world's leading social media platform and will bring in huge value to the Auto Expo as a show, which is not only about motors, but also about mobility,” he said.

This year’s theme is based on exploring the world of mobility and envisioning a safer, cleaner, connected, bespoke, and shared tomorrow; and Facebook says it’s working closely with industry leaders to enable customised solutions for auto brands, and the expo will provide a platform to take those conversations forward.

“Facebook and Instagram are platforms where people pursue and share their passions. We are committed to enabling the auto industry to move forward, and are looking forward to conversations with industry leaders and brands during the expo,” Prasanjeet Dutta Baruah, vertical head (tech, telecom and automotive), Facebook India, said.

For an industry hit by low demand resulting from a host of causes like fuel price volatility, liquidity crunch, rising insurance costs, and concerns over the transition from BS IV to BS VI emission standards, experts say technology will be an important factor in boosting consumer demand, especially since it will help lure young buyers.

Many auto players are planning to use this platform to connect to their younger audiences. Europe’s largest manufacturer Volkswagen, for example, is all set to unveil its new brand design and logo at the event. “In this new avatar, the presentation of the brand will become more digital, human, and more modern,” the company says.

“The new brand design marks the start of a new era for Volkswagen. Globally, the brand has committed itself towards being carbon neutral by 2050. This comprehensive rebranding is the logical consequence of our brand’s strategic reorientation. Now is the right time to make the new attitude of our brand visible to the outside world,” said Steffen Knapp, director, Volkswagen Passenger Cars India.

The country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki, too, is planning to premiere its coupé-style electric concept, the FUTURO-e. The company says that the car is a fusion of a coupé with an SUV and has been conceptualised and designed in India for the aspirational youth.

“The Concept FUTURO-e represents Maruti Suzuki’s vision for the Indian automobile market. Pegged as an Indian car with global sensibilities, the Concept FUTURO-e takes into consideration the evolving desires of the country’s aspirational youth. Its simple yet powerful design and futuristic light signature in front and rear build a captivating visual connect with the modern automobile ecosystem,” CV Raman, senior executive director, Maruti Suzuki India, said.

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