Ola Cabs CEO Bhavish Aggarwal takes on Elon Musk over EV duty cut

Topics Ola | OLA cabs | EV market

Illustration: Binay Sinha
Tesla’s call for a cut in duty on imported electric cars has prompted heads of other companies to react. On Tuesday, Ola Cabs founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said he was not in favour of the government paring duty on imported electric vehicles. Aggarwal’s comments went viral on the micro blogging platform Twitter after reports that Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc had sought a lower duty on imported EVs.

SS Kim, managing director of Hyundai India, added his bit to back Tesla on the duty cut issue in an interview to Autocar India. “Lower duties will help grow the EV market,” Kim told the magazine.

Taking on the two industry majors, Aggarwal said he believed that India should have confidence in its own ability to build EVs indigenously. ‘’Strongly disagree with both. Let’s have confidence in our ability to build indigenously and also attract global OEMs to build in India, not just import. We won’t be the first country to do so," he tweeted.

The debate on imported duty on EVs comes at a time when India's nascent EV market is getting the much-needed policy push from the Centre as well as state governments. Home to some of the most polluted cities of the world, the government is favouring EVs to reduce emissions as well as cut the import bill on fossil fuel.

Ola Electric is the latest entrant in the EV market. The e-scooter's pre-launch garnered bookings of close to 100,000 in 24 hours. The company’s maiden product opened for bookings for the public two weeks back at a token amount of Rs 499.

Tesla Inc, which is set to begin its India innings this year, has written to the government seeking about a 40 per cent reduction in import duties on EV. The move could boost demand and generate revenue for the government, Reuters had recently reported citing sources.

If the government indeed reduces the import duty on EVs, it’s likely to open the floodgates and pave the way for many new launches in the premium end of the market. Luxury carmakers including Mercedes Benz India, Audi India and Jaguar Land Rover have launched their EVs in India. Hyundai sells the Kona electric and MG the ZVS.

India levies a duty of more than 100 per cent on imported vehicles. Owing to a high sticker price, the volumes have been limited.

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