• Sunday, April 21, 2024

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Audi India chief says work on local EV production underway

Balbir Singh Dhillon, Audi India head. (Picture: Balbir Singh Dhillon LinkedIn account)

By: Shubham Ghosh

LUXURY automaker Audi India is planning to initiate local assembly of electric vehicles (EVs), a move which is aimed at enabling the company to introduce models at a more affordable price point and expand its customer base in the country.

Presently, the automaker imports its entire range of electric vehicles, including the Q8 50 e-tron, Q8 55 e-tron, Q8 Sportback 50 e-tron, Q8 Sportback 55 e-tron, e-tron GT, and RS e-tron GT, into the country. It already assembles petrol models such as the Q3, Q3 Sportback, Q5, Q7, A4, and A6 at its manufacturing plant in Aurangabad in the western state of Maharashtra.

In an interaction with news agency Press Trust of India in Ingolstadt in Germany, Audi India chief Balbir Singh Dhillon said the local manufacturing of EVs is a work in progress with active discussions going on with its global headquarters.

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“We are working with Audi AG very positively and hopefully at some point in time we will be able to announce this (local assembly of EV models),” he noted.

When asked about the expected timeline of commencing the process, Dhillon did not share any specific date but stated that the India unit is discussing the matter with the global headquarters very “positively”.

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“Hopefully we should have some solution at some point in time. That is the time when you can reach even more (set of customers) because then you will get the best advantage in terms of price point,” he said.

He further said, “I think the next 2-3 years will be very crucial (2024-2026). These years will see many more new electric cars coming at different price points. Then I think our reach to our existing customers or first-time buyers will go up.” The company’s current EV model lineup is priced over Rs 1 crore, thus serving a very niche set of customers.

Currently, cars imported into India as completely built units (CBUs) attract customs duty ranging from 60 per cent to 100 per cent.

The country’s customs duty system treats electric cars and hydrocarbon-powered vehicles equally, imposing significant tariffs to encourage domestic manufacturing.

Audi, globally, is looking to introduce multiple electric models in the next 2-3 years many of which would also come to India thus helping the Indian operations to choose which ones to localise. In order to rev up sales volume, Audi India would look out for models which sit below the current range in price terms.

The company currently gets around two per cent of its total sales from EVs. It reported 89 per cent growth in retail sales in India at 7,931 units last year as compared with a total of 4,187 units in 2022.

Audi on Monday (18) evening globally premiered the Q6 e-tron, a new EV model which would sit below the Q8 e-tron range. To be manufactured at the company’s Ingolstadt plant, the model is expected to roll out in various markets globally this year. It is also expected to make its way to Indian shores early next year.

Dhillon said the model would help in widening the company’s customer base in India.

(With PTI inputs)

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