India can be hub for affordable EVs in future, says Skoda CEO
India has the potential to become a global hub for affordable electric vehicles soon. Stressing that India's definite push towards EVs is inevitable at some point, Thomas Schaefer, CEO at Skoda Auto, said that investments for electric vehicles will take place in India in near future. He also said that India can play a strong role within the global markets of the Volkswagen Group.
"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," Schaefer said. However, he did not commit any timeline when Skoda will bring in its own electric vehicles to India.
Elaborating why Skoda sees India as a key hub for the Volkswagen Group, Schaefer said, "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."
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He also said, "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."
Skoda, which is part of Skoda Auto Volkswagen India, hopes to see normalisation of supplies in the second half of the year in India. "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," Schaefer said during a virtual meeting.
As far as Skoda's EV roadmap in India is concerned, Schaefer 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."
Schaefer also ruled out any immediate plans to locally manufacture EVs in India. He said, it is "too short for this kind of business, because this is literally a completely new factory." He also said that Skoda may bring in a small electric car to India later to test the water.