The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways will reportedly remove the roadblocks for import of foreign cars and motorcycles to India, in its latest policy. According to a report on the Times of India (TOI), automobile manufacturers or their representatives can now easily import their global models to India, irrespective of engine capacity or price, within limited quantity. The report says that each manufacturer will be allowed to annually import 2,500 units of foreign-made cars or two-wheelers, which already comply with international regulations. In the case of heavy commercial vehicles like trucks and buses, automakers will be allowed to imports only 500 units annually.
Talking about the Director General Of Foreign Trade (DGFT) norms, an official from the ministry told TOI, "The DGFT norm is based on the Central Motor Vehicle Rules so far as registration without local testing is concerned. So, the change in the rules will pave the way for liberal import norms." The imported vehicles, of course, must be right-hand-drive (RHD) models, and they will attract import and other duties as applicable. The policy will also allow import of vehicle components that comply with international standards.
The existing norms are pretty strict when it comes to importing foreign vehicles. The industry says that the manufacturers are not even allowed to import vehicles for R&D and testing purposes if the said vehicle does not meet the Indian standards. Currently, automobile manufacturers or their representatives are only allowed homologation-free import of cars that are valued above $40,000, which is around ₹ 28.7 lakh, as per current exchange rates. In the case of two-wheelers, the bar is set on displacement, and manufacturers are only allowed to vehicles with engine capacity above 800 cc. With the new norms coming into place this will change.
While an official announcement from the Ministry is still awaited, this change in norms can open up new avenues for manufacturers across all segments, for bringing in a host of global models to India. This decision might also prompt automakers like Maruti Suzuki to reconsider bringing in the Swift Sport to India, of course in very limited numbers. While other global manufacturers like Toyota or Nissan can consider the import of their affordable entry-level sports cars that are valued under $40,000. Similarly, in the case of two-wheelers, import of all sub-800 cc motorcycles will become easier. This could also allow electric car manufacturers to test the waters in India before considering local assembly.