The crowd at City Centre Salt Lake on the last day of the auto carnival. Picture by Bhubaneswarananda Halder
Junior, all of five, settled into the driver’s seat and didn’t take long to give his verdict: “Baba, shamne onekta jayga (Dad, there is plenty of space in front)!”
Standing beside the car, his father was already driving a hard bargain. “So what are the accessories you are giving free with the Enjoy?” Sayantan Ghosh from Belgachhia asked the Chevrolet sales representative.
“Mats, mud guards, carpet and free insurance,” the young man reeled off the list.
Sayantan nodded. If the chartered accountant was as interested in the car as his son was, he wasn’t telling yet!
“Given the state of the market, you have to offer the best. Competition is intense. If we don’t satisfy him, a competitor will get him,” a member of the sales team said.
By the time the curtain came down on the State Bank of India presents The Telegraph Auto Weekend Carnival 2013, powered by Godrej AER, over 1.1 lakh prospective car buyers had been to the Kund at City Centre Salt Lake in three days.
For the car manufacturers competing for eyeballs, the last evening of the carnival was easily the most frenzied.
“We have had a number of enquiries over the weekend. We now need to follow them up,” a Volkswagen salesperson said.
The Cross Polo may have been the star of the show in the VW corner, but prospective customers also came looking for the regular Polo, the Polo GT, the Vento and the Passat, totalling 135 enquiries.
The new Tata Nano invited the highest number of enquiries — around 180 — since the show started on Friday afternoon. “Of these, 30 per cent are hot leads that we are confident of turning into actual sales,” a company spokesman said.
While sales personnel from the Tata dealerships in town handled the visitors, the company spokesman was there through the weekend to anchor the sales promotion.
“There is already a big buzz about the new Nano. We are pretty confident of doing well with this model,” he said.
A little ahead stood the unmistakably Honda-manufactured Amaze. The Amaze has had an amazing run in Calcutta and it showed in the attention it got at the carnival.
The entry-level sedan that also has a diesel variant — the company’s first — garnered the highest number of enquiries at the Honda stall.
“We had a total of 150 enquiries, of which eight are hot leads, and all of them are for the Amaze,’ said the Pinnacle Honda salesman.
The Fiat Punto and the Linea, strategically parked at the top of the steps, gave everyone a good view of the much-appreciated silhouettes of these two cars.
“Add a few inches to your chest,” so goes the Linea punchline, tapping the pride quotient of the prospective Fiat owner.
The new-generation car offers a stretched wheelbase that has got many interested in the car. The Punto has got a facelift, too. And with 60 enquiries and five hot leads, Fiat has much to take back from the carnival.
A few feet away from the Linea stood the Toyota Liva, the already successful hatchback from the Japanese giant. Toyota chose to display its new Innova right in front and got the highest queries for the car among all models at the stall. “Innova is very much the winner. It sells the most here,” said the sales professional from Topsel Toyota.
Verito Vibe, Mahindra’s new offering at the carnival, competed with the Thar for attention. “We have had enquiries for Thar, XUV 500 and the Quanto,” a salesperson said.
Thar is a true-blue SUV and the response to it proved that Calcutta has its share of off-roading enthusiasts who crave to be at the wheel of this macho car.
The Pleasure and the Splendour from Hero MotoCorp drew mostly youngsters, many of them accompanied by their parents. “We had 66 enquiries but expected more,” a salesman said.
The big draw of the carnival was the Harley stall that recorded 80 sales enquiries, but grabbed many times more eyeballs. As phone cameras went click-click, it wasn’t difficult to make out that the cult of Street Bob and Fat Boy is more than the sum of bikes sold.