With the Indian government set to liberalise import norms by removing restrictions on price and engine capacities, roads in the country may soon be flooded with top-of-the-line vehicles. The liberalisation may encourage new product launches by carmakers such as Mercedes, BMW, Nissan, and Toyota and premium two-wheeler companies like Triumph and Kawasaki. Sources said that the government will henceforth allow the import of vehicles, which are certified by internationally-accepted test agencies such as those in Europe, Singapore and other countries.
Current norms as decided by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) allow homologation-free import of four-wheelers valued above $40,000 and two-wheelers of 800-cc and beyond. These rates would soon be done away with, even though, import and other duties will still need to be paid at the current rates. Sources said the proposed norms will allow a manufacturer or its agent to import 2,500 units annually and these would not require test-clearance by Indian agencies. Luxury vans may benefit from the measure. While Toyota can look at introducing the Alphard people's carrier, Mercedes may be prompted to get the Viano van or V-Class.
The Road Transport Ministry has issued a draft notification on easing the norm, which it claimed will increase the options for consumers to buy globally-popular models. Officials said this will also pave the way for registration of imported vehicles across states, which has been a problem in certain states. The draft notification, to ensure that imported vehicles meet certain Indian conditions, said that these will have to have “right hand steering control” while complying with international standards set in Europe and Singapore.
A ministry official said, “Our aim is to give exposure of more models of vehicles to people. There are certain segments of vehicles, which can be used by physically-challenged or older persons, and these will also be allowed under this scheme. There are global companies which launch several models overseas but introduce only a few models in India despite it being a big growing market.”