Sunday, December 31, 2006

Small Cars Boom Spell Urban Doom

India is basking in the sunshine for the robust growth of economy and the inevitable consumerism it has spurred by way of higher spending and improved lifestyles for Indians. Car - the ubiquitous status symbol delineating the rich from the poor is expectedly much in demand. The nation's image as the one afflicted with widespread poverty has taken a backseat after 1.3 million automobiles have been manufactured during the year 2006. In my previous posts 'Small Is Beautiful' followed by 'Small Cars Make Big News', I had hinted at small cars becoming cynosure of automobile manufacturers.
The year 2007 may see the launch of over 40 new models - many in the small car segment. The scenario is becoming all the more exciting with the international giants Honda, Toyota, GM and Fiat eyeing small car markets and planning huge investments in India. Their combined committed investment in the Indian automotive sector is reported to be a staggering Rs60,000 crores (exceeding $13 billion) over next 4 years. If this is not enough to celebrate, then the forecast made by Golden Sachs that India will have the largest population of automobiles by the year 2050 calls for uncorking Champagne definitely.
Just wait! We should also take into account what is lurking in the darkness. The Indian cities and towns are, as it is, notorious for endemic traffic jams caused by narrow roads with fast moving automobiles vying with slow moving handcarts and three-wheelers besides bicycles for right of way. The air and sound pollution far exceeds the prescribed safe limits. The road accidents in India are also the highest. So if more and more small cars are made, their highly competitive market may benefit the consumers who will also have the luxury to choose from a wide range of models at affordable prices. But it will spell doom for the millions living in the cities. The car density, likewise, will increase several folds from the measly four cars per 1000 people. The boom in the automotive sector will also generate jobs for a few thousand people. However, the flip side is too catastrophic to celebrate India's boom for small cars. Let the government ensure that environmental damage will not take place and more cars are not going to bring more problems in the lives of people.
Then I would also like take part in the celebrations. How about you?

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