With their inaugural Formula 1 Grand Prix a recent memory and the i1 Super Series to come later this month, India is seeing a rapid surge in motorsport interest.
As noted on this site recently, Caterham Cars announced club level championships for India and Malaysia, with potential Chinese and Middle Eastern excursions in the offing. Now Mercedes-Benz are eyeing the potential for expansion within India thanks to the launch of the JPSI Performance Driving Academy at the 11th Auto Expo in New Delhi this week.
The soon to be operational academy is designed to provide a platform to nurture emerging racing talent in the country, although it appears at this early stage to be aimed towards those interested in Touring Cars and club-level motorsport; however that is open to change over time.
Amongst several new motoring technologies, Mercedes-Benz have also used the Auto Expo to display its latest roadster, the SLS AMG, as well the latest model DTM machine.
Ferrari, too, have also indicated an interest in bringing sportscar racing to India, although the implementation of this may still yet be a long way off.
Whether this translates to the wider public is still to be seen, but it is certainly a positive step for the Motorsport Association of India (MAI), as they endeavour to boost the popularity of motor racing in what is a key global market that is growing in importance.
Mercedes-Benz were far from being the sole car company at the Auto Expo, with up to fifty brands pitching for business.
Unlike difficult recent expeditions in Korea and Bahrain, manufacturers appear keen to display their wares in the Indian and surrounding markets – wise considering the area’s sizeable population and growing middle class demographic.
Beyond the purely sporting aspects, Mercedes-Benz enjoyed significant growth in India from January to November last year, with the manufacturer seeing a 31% increase in sales throughout the country. This growth is expected to continue throughout this year.
It must be noted, however, that Mercedes-Benz are still a long way off India’s major automotive players, Tata Motors and Maruti Suzuki, who together represent approximately 61% of the industry.