Before Tesla enters India, German premium carmakers are going on an electric vehicle (EV) offensive. Last year, Mercedes-Benz launched the EQC, and this year Audi launched five variants of its e-tron, followed by the Porsche Taycan.
On Thursday, BMW India said it will launch EVs across body shapes: SUV, speciality car and sedan. “We will launch the iX in 30 days, the Mini Electric in 90 days, and the i4 in 180 days,” Vikram Pawah, president & CEO, BMW Group India, told FE.
Born electric, the iX is the first BMW vehicle without any numerals in its model designation. “The ‘iX’ stands for the first BMW electric all-wheel drive vehicle, and is BMW Group’s new technology flagship,” Pawah said. “It has a driving range of 425 km on full charge.” All these three EVs will be imported as completely built-up (CBU) units.
Some carmakers have been demanding lower import duties on EVs, which today stand at 60-100%. In July, Tesla CEO Elon Musk had said the company may set up a manufacturing unit in India if it first succeeds with imported vehicles in the country. Hyundai India backed Tesla, with MD & CEO SS Kim adding that reduction in taxes on imported EVs will be welcome as it will help automakers generate needed volumes (for local manufacturing). Balbir Singh Dhillon, head of Audi India, has also raised the same argument.
Pawah said: “We have been making in India, for India, for 15 years, and there is no reason for us not to continue doing that. My request to the government is to help fast-track the adoption of green technologies in India. This will create local demand quicker, and when there is enough demand we will be able to localise EVs.” He added that the government can consider either giving limited time reduction of 2-3 years of lower import duties on EVs, “or give us a cap in terms of numbers that we can import at a lower duty”.
The carmaker will install fast chargers at all touchpoints at its dealer network in 35 cities. “Our aim is to build one of the best charging networks in the luxury segment,” Pawah said. Its fast charger is the 150 kW DC charger, which can charge up to 80% of the battery in 31 minutes, and add 95 km driving range in 10 minutes.
As far as business performance is concerned, in the 10 months of CY21 (January-October), BMW India launched 25 new products and its sales grew 38.5%, at 6,897 cars. It also reached 1 lakh cumulative car sales in October. The carmaker is seeing a shift from diesel to petrol. “Lately, 60% of our sales are coming from petrol cars,” Pawah said. “Also, about 45% sales are of SAVs (the terminology BMW uses for SUVs) and 55% sedans.”
The peak sales year for BMW India was CY18, when it sold 11,105 units. Its premium two-wheeler arm, BMW Motorrad, recorded a growth of 195% in January-October 2021.
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