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After Tesla, Benz, Audi calls for reduction in import duties in India

Adding to the string of complaints regarding high import taxes in India by several high-end carmakers, luxury car manufacturer Audi has now “termed high taxation on imported cars in India an impediment for growth of the electric segment,” adding that “even some relief in terms of duties could help it sell more vehicles and convince its headquarters to re-invest in the country for local manufacturing of such models.” 

The auto company has already sold off the first batch of e-trons that it had imported to the country for sale, highlighting that the market is ripe for electric vehicles. “It gives us confidence that people are ready, India is ready for electric mobility. All this is helping us to introduce more and more such cars,” Audi India Head Balbir Singh Dhillon told PTI. 

He pointed out that the import duties are, however, turning out to be a limiting factor for the sale of the electric models. “If duty is less, probably we can sell more in the country,” he said. He further added that even if the government provides relief for at least three to five years, it will help the carmaker achieve a certain minimum volume in order to explore the possibility of manufacturing EVs locally.

“They (HQ ) need to believe that there is a demand so that they can think about further investments…there is a positive signal with e-tron range…we have to run for some time before we can go to them to re-invest in India,” he stated.

The company last week added two new fully electric four-door coupes – the e-tron GT and the RS e-tron GT – in India, taking the total number of such cars in its portfolio to five models.

At present, cars imported as completely built units (CBUs) attract customs duty ranging from 60 percent to 100 percent, depending on engine size and cost, insurance and freight (CIF) value less or above USD 40,000.

Counting on the positives, Dhillon noted that the lower GST rate of 5 percent and help given by some state governments in terms of registration costs were some of the factors which were beneficial for the electric car segment.

Dhillon noted that the company is aiming for 15 percent of its total sales per annum in the country to accrue from the electric vehicles portfolio by 2025. Globally, Audi has decided to become an electric vehicle manufacturer from 2033 onwards.

Dhillon stated that Audi India is taking steps towards the same direction and is already selling only petrol and electric cars in the country.

“We have moved to a petrol plus electric vehicle strategy now. We are not offering diesel cars now and it is only electric and petrol cars in our product range and that’s the future. It is a step-by-step approach and one day will become a complete electric vehicle maker,” he added.

In order to help its electric vehicle customers in the country, Audi India plans to set up over 100 charging stations across its dealerships and that of its group firms, Dhillon noted.

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