Skoda Auto CEO Thomas Schfer has said that India can play a strong role within the global markets of the Volkswagen Group, including serving as a hub for affordable electric vehicles in future.
India can play a strong role within the global markets of the Volkswagen Group, including serving as a hub for affordable electric vehicles in future, Skoda Auto CEO Thomas Schäfer said on Tuesday. The Czech carmaker, which is leading the India 2.0 project of the group, also sees normalisation of supplies in the second half of the year here in India, after being impacted by global semiconductor shortage.
“Apart from the Indian domestic market becoming a significant player, I strongly believe that the India operation can play a strong role within our other markets around the world,” Schäfer said in a virtual interaction with reporters. Volkswagen exports vehicles from India to countries like Mexico and South Africa, among others. “We can use it (India) as a base for Southeast Asia. There’s this beautiful opportunity…India needs to play a bigger role. I want India to take the rightful place in this network of the group and it can do that,” he asserted.
Asked if the group sees the potential of localising electric vehicles in India as it is gaining traction here as well, he said, “Look, India cannot be just ICE forever. So there needs to be a point where investment has to come in for electric vehicles over time, especially affordable EVs.” He further said it is not just for the Indian market but also for “many regions in the world that need affordable EV that are not of the level of Enyaq (Skoda’s premium EV) and high tech, but more affordable, more entry available space..It will have to happen.” Stressing that it is a question of when not if, Schäfer said, “At the moment, we as a company, have to see that we can see this plan through. We still have a little bit of time to make the decision. But I’m pretty clear that India will not be able to lag behind until 2030 and then make a decision on electric vehicles. That’s going to happen in the next two years or so, you’ll see clearly what’s happening.” When pressed if Skoda would localise EVs in India in the next three years, he replied in the negative saying it is “too short for this kind of business, because this is literally a completely new factory” but added that it could happen in the “second half of the decade”.
Schäfer also said Skoda is a part of the VW group’s EV development project and at least there will be one small electric car which could be used in India too. Asked about the supply chain constraints due to semiconductor shortange and the war in Ukraine, he said the Ukraine situation is not so much affecting the company’s operations in India, as much as it has affected in Czech Republic.
Asked about the sales and supply outlook for this year in India, he said while the semiconductor shortage has been “frustrating” and “we are hoping that by second half things will normalise again” and the company would be able to meet the customer orders that are already in.
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