2020 – The year for an Indian automobile enthusiast

This year has almost come to an end, back in Dec 2019 we had heard the first case of a virus called Covid-19 emerge in Wuhan, China. Little did we know that it would engulf the entire country, world; tumble economies across various sectors. The situation is still far from over as we are at the end of 2020. But there is light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine having rolled out in some countries.

India got it’s first Covid-19 case on 30th Jan and we have touched 1 Cr cases. Salute to all doctors and frontline workers who ensured that the general public is safe. Doctors and frontline workers definitely need a year off after this damn virus is gone.

The Auto Expo is a biennial event which takes place in February. It took place between 6-9th February 2020. Many manufacturers showcased their new entrants and concepts but there were many who didn’t participate as well. I had booked my flight, Auto Expo tickets, and booked a hotel near the venue. But sadly, couldn’t go since the virus was spreading.

By March the situation across China, Italy grew severe. On March 25th 2020, when cases had reached 500, India was placed in lockdown. Work-From-Home was the new normal, nobody knew what just hit them. Small businesses, small shops, entrepreneurs, large companies were severely impacted. Factories were shut, April saw 0 sales across all segments of vehicles for the first time in history. Flights were shut off, people were stuck at different places around the world. One word for it was Chaos. Several large industries generously donated to fight the deadly virus, right from making masks to ventilators. MG Motors and Maruti Suzuki were some companies at the forefront.

There was another very important step that India took in April 2020 and that was BS6 implementation. Several cars got discontinued, new engines were made, old engines were upgraded, and some were discontinued, Diesel engined cars became more expensive. Maruti-Suzuki, the largest car maker in the country, shifted entirely to petrol powered cars. Several manufacturers shifted only to petrol power.

Some epic engines that were lost in the process

  • Ford’s 3.2L 5 Cylinder engine powering the Endeavour.
  • Innova’s 2.8L GD series engine.
  • Hyundai’s amazing 1.6L CRDi motor.
  • Who can forget the national engine of India, Fiat’s 1.3L Multijet that powered close to 26 cars across 5 brands.
  • Volkswagen, Skoda and Audi were loved for their diesel torque monsters but sadly all of them saw the axe (1.5L TDi, 2L TDi and 3L TDi).
  • Who can forget the 1.2L TSI and the 1.8L TSI.
  • Nissan-Renault’s impressive 1.5L DCi was replaced by a 1.3L turbo petrol.
  • 2.2L Varicor which powered the Hexa and Safari Storme.
  • Mercedes-Benz’s 2.1L turbo diesel unit.
  • Maruti’s 1L Boosterjet turbo petrol
  • Fiat’s 1.4L turbo petrol in the Punto Abarth, Linea TJet.

What replaced them?

  • 1L TSI is the first motor which comes to mind, explosive power!
  • 1.3L turbo petrol from Renault-Nissan-Daimler.
  • 1.5L TSI, 2L TSI across the Skoda, VW and Audi range.
  • 2L turbo petrol from Mahindra (currently only in the new Thar.)
  • 1.5L petrol from Maruti-Suzuki, which is average at best.
  • 2L turbo diesel Panther engine from Ford coupled with India’s first 10 speed torque converter automatic.

Cars that were discontinued

  • JTP was shut down
  • Tata Hexa and Safari Storme
  • Toyota Corolla Altis, Etios twins
  • Honda BR-V
  • Renault Captur (Kaptur), Lodgy
  • Toyota Land Cruiser Prado and LC200
  • Nissan Terrano
  • Skoda Octavia
  • Audi Q3, Q5, Q7, A3, A4 and A5.

The industry was slowly recovering, people were slowly adjusting to the new normal and the lockdown was partially eased. The entire economy re-started after a road-block, there were salary-cuts, job-losses, but that didn’t deter people from working. Today I can proudly say we are 75% back to normal. Flights have begun which is a good sign. Restaurants, theatres, malls have opened with limited people allowed.

Slowly hotels have opened up and people embarked on their first trips of 2020!

Even if 2020 was a slow year, that didn’t mean the auto manufacturers had slowed down as well! Here is a slew of launches across 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 Tiguan Allspace
  • March 16 – 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 Gen Mahindra Thar
  • October 8 – MG Gloster, Mercedes-Benz EQC
  • October 15 – BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, Land Rover Defender
  • October 16 – Audi Q2
  • November 2 – BMW X3 M
  • November 3 – Made-in-India Mercedes-Benz GLC 43 AMG
  • November 5 – New Hyundai i20
  • November 24 – Facelifted Toyota Innova Crysta
  • November 26 – BMW X5 M
  • December 2 – Nissan Magnite

Remembering 2020

It saw Mercedes-Benz taking the first step in the performance department by launching a Made-In-India Performance car; the GLC 43 AMG.

#1 Thar was auctioned for ₹1.11 Cr and Mahindra matched the amount and donated a massive ₹2.22 Cr to charity.

Another highlight in the year was the opening of the 9.02km-long Atal Tunnel, the world’s longest tunnel above 10,000ft, in Himachal Pradesh. Cut short some gruesome hours of travel.

Great Wall Motors was not granted permission by the Maharashtra Government to proceed with their plans due to the India-China conflict. Strong Anti-Chinese sentiment were there and people boycotted Chinese goods extensively.

Geneva Motor Show was cancelled, Cartier announced it was pulling the plug on the Cartier Concours d’Elegance – the show that put India on the international stage for vintage and classic concours – due to budget constraints and a change in market priorities.

The automotive world also lost some key personalities. Racing legend Sir Sterling Moss passed away early in 2020, and the Indian auto industry received a shock with the untimely demise of BMW India head Rudratej Singh. Hans Mezger, renowned Porsche engineer and the creator of the 911’s signature flat-six boxer engine, also passed away.

It has not been an easy year for anyone. If there is one thing that the virus taught us, it is spending valuable and crucial time with family members, staying safe and not exposing oneself, not taking anything for granted, bouncing back more resilient, stronger than ever before.

Huge Salute to our Doctors, Frontline workers and our Security Forces who saved our country with utmost determination and bravery without whom we would have not made it till here.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all fellow BHpians and their families. May the next year fulfil your dreams and wishes. Stay safe and take care.

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