Small is big at Delhi auto show

NEW DELHI, January 3, 2010 (AFP) – Small will be big at an Indian auto show when the world’s leading manufacturers unveil a slew of compact cars designed for one of the world’s fastest growing markets. AutoExpo 2010, which begins on Tuesday and runs until January 11, is expected to be the biggest ever, featuring global releases of new models from the most famous names in the industry.

Recent months have seen foreign giants Ford, General Motors, Hyundai and Renault join a stampede to India, where each has promised a small, cheap model designed for what Ford boss Alan Mulally termed the “sweet spot” of the market.

Many of these will be on display during the week, including the Figo from Ford, concept small cars from Japan’s Honda and Toyota as well as the India-made Polo by Germany’s Volkswagen.

“India is developing as a small-car hub,” senior director at the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), Sugato Sen, told AFP.

He pointed to government policies that have promoted the production of small cars domestically, while rising incomes have driven demand for basic, no-frills vehicles.

“India ultimately is a developing country where the average annual income is below 1,0