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NEW DELHI: India’s biennial car show scheduled to be held in February has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the looming threat of a third wave of infections, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) said on Monday.

SIAM, which organises the two-day event, said the risk of spreading infections is extremely high as the show is visited by large crowds and maintaining social distancing would be difficult. It will decide on a new date later this year.

The auto industry body may host the show in late 2022 if things improve, sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters, adding that the pandemic has had a financial impact on automakers.

The surge in cases of the highly transmissible Delta variant, which battered India in April and May, is rattling parts of Asia that were previously relatively successful in containing the pandemic.

In a worrying trend of rising infections, India on Friday reported the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in three weeks.

The car show in India is a platform for domestic carmakers like Maruti Suzuki and Tata Motors as well as global companies such as Hyundai Motor Co and Daimler to showcase new models and technologies.

Companies have to spend a lot of money on the display and with the uncertainty of a third wave it was thought best to postpone the event, one of the sources said.

Lockdowns and supply chain disruptions globally, including a shortage of semiconductors, have hurt car sales in India where sales had been hit in 2019 due to an economic slowdown.

In recent years, auto shows globally have lost their sheen with large carmakers remaining absent.

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