In a move likely to offer consumers a wider choice and bring in cars to our market a bit sooner, the Government is set to allow the import and sale of all passenger vehicles without them having to be homologated in India. So far exemptions exist for only vehicles with a freight-on-board value above USD 40,000 and certain engine capacities. There are restrictions to the relaxations of course, like only right-hand-drive cars can be imported and only those compliant with EEC or ECE or Japanese regulations are allowed. Furthermore and importantly, to protect the Indian manufacturing operations only 2,500 units per year per company would be allowed in.
Current taxes would also still apply but, interestingly, auto companies have the option of importing the new cars as either a CBU (Completely Built Up) or a CKD (Completely Knocked Down). Companies like Toyota and Lexus have already welcomed the move, with PB Venugopal, president of Lexus India, saying they will be able to bring in more models to India. Michael Jopp, vice president, sales & marketing, Mercedes-Benz India, too echoed a similar sentiment saying, “We welcome the move as it will accelerate our ability to bring special models like cabriolets and some AMGs and also reduce costs.” Audi India has also said the move will ease the process of bringing in low volume models like the A7, and it could even look at bringing in cars like the A1 hatchback. Even carmakers like Maserati have hinted they could look at more powertrain options for their existing line-up should the new rules take effect.
Two-wheeler makers too have eased import norms, with up to 500 bikes allowed per year per company.
Matters of Import-ance