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India may lift barrier to let Great Wall Motors drive in

S Ronendra Singh New Delhi | Updated on October 09, 2020 Published on October 08, 2020

Great Wall Motors made its debut in India at the Auto Expo in February   -  REUTERS

Chinese auto major to manufacture SUV at Maharashtra unit that was used by GM

Chinese auto major Great Wall Motors (GWM), which has been facing uncertainties on starting manufacturing in India, may hear some positive news from the Indian authorities.

According to multiple sources, the Prime Minister’s Office is likely to give its nod for manufacturing at a facility at Talegaon (Maharashtra) that was earlier used by US-based General Motors; GWM had agreed to acquire this plant in January.

While government officials remained non-committal, a GWM spokesperson told BusinessLine, “We are hopeful of hearing from the government soon on investment clearances. GWM is a global company and committed to contribute significantly to the growth of the Indian economy.”

 

The company made its India debut at the Auto Expo in February where it announced investments of $1 billion (around ₹7,000 crore) in India in phases; this included the acquisition of the Talegaon plant, the setting up of a research and development (R&D) facility besides sales and marketing infrastructure.

In June, it signed a memorandum of understanding with the Maharashtra government to use the GM plant for its manufacturing. The plant will be equipped with the latest technology and along with the R&D centre in Bengaluru will generate over 3,000 jobs, in phases, it had said.

Also read: Maharashtra government freezes three deals with China worth ₹5000 crore: Report

Border tensions

However, subsequent to the growing tension between Indian and Chinese troops at Galwan Valley in Ladakh, the process was stalled. Some reports said that the Maharashtra government, in consultation with the Centre, had put on hold three major investments by Chinese companies, including that of GWM, into the State.

But GWM is optimistic about getting an approval to start manufacturing, and becoming a part of the ‘Make in India’ programme. “Our plans to be part of the ‘Make in India’ effort are rapidly going to add to the growth story of the country. We will do this while skilling people, supporting the environment and providing employment opportunities across multiple levels, directly and indirectly,” said the spokesperson.

The spokesperson added that the company would abide by Indian laws and rules and respect all decisions taken. GWM will manufacture the Haval sports utility vehicle at the Talegaon facility, and expects to launch it next year.

Also read: China car investments for India in pause mode as tension mounts

Second auto major in India

GWM will be the second Chinese auto major to be part of the Indian auto scene after Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC)-owned MG Motor entered the country last year. MG Motor India also has had to face flak and is still struggling to convince buyers that MG (Morris Garages) is a British brand, and that the products are segment leading.

Chinese auto companies are not the only ones facing such issues. Over the last few months, the government has banned 224 Chinese mobile apps such as TikTok, UC Browser, Baidu, Kwai, Baidu map, Likee, YouCam makeup, Mi Community, Virus Cleaner, Alipay and Club Factory. And, in the telecom sector, major equipment companies such as Huawei and ZTE are being kept out of network projects.

Mission India
  • Apart from GWM, other Chinese auto majors such as Changan, Geely, Chery and Beiqi Foton were also looking to enter India market
  • Changan is expected to start operations from 2022, but no update from others
  • BYD has already started and launched EV buses in India along with the partner Olectra Greentech

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Published on October 08, 2020
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