How’s the Indian business doing?
Business is doing well, we’re up 8% in sales this year and I’m very positive on India as things are going in the right direction. As you know, we had a change in the GST rates recently – after the system was established just 60 days ago, so I think that this change has come too early. But this is a part of the pain of learning. I fully support the changes that Prime Minister Modi has established, but India needs a stable and predictable business environment to offer international companies who invest billions of dollars.
Is the Indian government receptive to that message?
We had an Indian-Bavarian summit in Munich recently, with a lot of Bavarian ministers and business people, as well as the Indian ambassador and representatives of the Indian government, and the number one communication between the German investors and their counterparts in India was that capital will only go where it is treated the best – as capital is flexible – so India has to ensure that the investment is protected. BMW’s Chairman Harald Kruger met with PM Modi during his visit to Germany a year-and-a-half ago and the discussion was the same – whatever the rules are, just make them transparent!
BMW’s target is to be number one in e-mobility. Where does a market like India fit into that picture?
BMW will see 100,000 electric-powered cars this year, between the i3, the i8, and the hybrids – and this number will grow rapidly. We will have 25 electric-powered cars in the near future. Four years ago, at Frankfurt, we launched the i3 – whereas some of our competitors are just getting their feet wet. It was a very bold and costly move when we introduced the i-brand. With that said, it’s clear that electric mobility will come to different parts of the world at its own pace. It’s largely dependent on what support you get from the government. If you look at California, Norway and Holland – just to name three locations – these States have made electric mobility a key agenda, through tax relief programs as well as enormous infrastructure spending. And this has helped to jumpstart the business. But, as you remove this support, the market slows down. Electric mobility is still in its infancy. So, in India, you need a reliable power grid, as well as the power infrastructure and charging stations – you need to walk before you can run! Having said that, electric mobility will help enormously in places like Delhi where you have high pollution – even though the pollution isn’t caused by cars. We launched the i8 in India a few years ago, so we are ready – but the market and the government legislation also needs to be ready.