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Audi drives in electric in India; considers local production to get competitive


NEW DELHI: Electric is the buzzword for the German luxury manufacturer Audi which drove in its first set of green cars in India under the e-tron badge, costing Rs 1 crore and more (ex-showroom), while the company takes on the EQC of compatriot Mercedes Benz and prepares a lineup before from Tesla’s entrance.
The company is also considering local assembly of electrical systems in India over the next several years, and the plan would be implemented together with parent Volkswagen and India’s leading brand, Skoda.
Hard hit by stiff competition, Audi had been scrambling for volumes in India for the past few years and the problems got even worse after the company decided to quit diesel last year.
However, with a stable gasoline strategy and now a steady eye on electricity, the company – once the top luxury seller but now trailing behind BMW and Mercedes (which it leads) – is confident that it will make a comeback.
So on Thursday, Audi offered three electric SUVs under its e-tron range (e-tron 50, e-tron 55 and e-tron Sportback 55), and these would be priced between Rs 99.9 lakh and Rs 1.18 crore (ex – showroom).
Balbir Singh Dhillon, Audi director in India, said the company will install about 100 charging points in 75 cities, while looking to install infrastructure on the main roads and the Golden Ring network.
Dhillon said it will take time for power systems to scale up in India, adding that the central government should reduce, or completely eliminate, the import duty of more than 100% on greens.
“Yes, the GST rate of 5% is attractive, and some states like Delhi, Karnataka and Maharashtra have also eliminated registration charges for electricity. However, we also need relief on the customs duty front. ”
The high import duty is one of the reasons behind plans for local production, although he added that this will come only after “sufficient scale” in sales has been achieved. “It is premature to talk about it in the present, although it is surely in the cards in the future.”
When asked if the company would ever return diesels to India, he said it has “not given up” on the fuel, although there is still no clarity on when it will be reintroduced.

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