Volkswagen teams with Tesla to slash India import duties

Volkswagen AG, the world’s second-largest carmaker, is calling for lower import duties on electric cars in India to help drive demand for clean vehicles, echoing Tesla’s recent pitch which has divided the country’s auto industry.

Cutting duties on electric vehicles (EVs) even to 25% – from current levels as high as 100% – would not pose a “big threat” to domestic players, but would help to drive investment, the German carmaker’s India head told Reuters in an interview.

However, import taxes are a big hold up in the process currently. Cars with a price tag of $40,000 or less have a 60% import tax applied to them, while anything more than that number has a 100% duty, effectively doubling the price of the car. Tesla attempted to lobby with India’s government officials to reduce the import duties. Still, numerous members of the Parliament have declined to work with the automaker, as local manufacturing takes priority. Some government officials are concerned that it could take momentum away from domestic carmakers and auto parts suppliers. The deal must benefit India’s local entities.

his led to a bottleneck in Tesla’s potential entrance, as CEO Elon Musk stated he was unwilling to establish a manufacturing plant in India without testing demand. Demand would be measured through imports, and if sales figures in India were hefty enough that a production facility would be justified, Musk said that Tesla would build an assembly facility in the country. However, Tesla had pushback from politicians who said that individual companies could not receive incentives, but Tesla pushed for all EV makers to qualify for the reductions. Earlier this week, India’s officials announced there were talks to reduce duties to encourage non-domestic manufacturers to sell their products in the country.

Now, Volkswagen AG is getting involved and is pushing for lower import duties in India as well. The company is proposing reductions to as little as 25% for import duties, stating that the reduction would not pose a “big threat” to domestic companies.

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