India will stay ahead of the curve amid the global economic slowdown and it offers a lot of potential for growth, according to multinational auto major Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares.
The country is also the best placed “superpower” that can leverage the opportunity arising out of the tension between the Western world (US and Europe) and China, he said here in an interaction. The company, which is gearing up to launch the electric version of its compact car C3 early next year, is also working on the possibility of exporting compact electric vehicles from the country to markets like Europe.
“We all see that the global economy is going to slow down in 2023. That’s also what all the competent administrations are predicting. They’re also saying that India will be somewhere between 6 per cent and 7 per cent GDP growth. That’s a lot,” Tavares said. He further said, “So, if there was to be a concern, globally, ahead of the curve will be India, (with) 6 to 7 per cent growth.” While reports are pointing out that Europe is the number one risk in terms of technical recession, followed by the US, he said India is not a risk and it has “so much potential to grow”.
From a Stellantis perspective, even if the automotive market in India were to slow down, Tavares said due to the company’s cost efficiency strategy and financial robustness and stability “…we are insulated. So the impact on us is very limited.” On the ongoing tension between the US, Europe and China, he said it is going to have a consequence, in terms of business. “And in the world, the power that is best placed to leverage these opportunities, is obviously, India… From a cost efficiency perspective and from a technology development perspective India is still the superpower that can leverage this opportunity,” he asserted.
Tavares pointed out that Stellantis has a lot of “common values” with India regarding “frugality, about the sense of hard work, sense of team spirit”, adding, “So we feel good about that. It’s an opportunity.” When asked about the company’s electric vehicle plans for India, he said Stellantis plans to launch the electric version of its compact car C3 “early next year” without divulging details. However, he said Stellantis is working hard to achieve a cost structure that would make EVs affordable and other quality parameters and depending on how quickly it is able to achieve those targets, the company could start exporting such EVs from India.
“If within the next 12 months, we achieve the quality numbers and the cost numbers, then we will be able to export. One of the obvious targets is Southeast Asia,” he said. Tavares further said it could also be something that can be tested for Europe in future. “So far Europe is unable to make affordable EVs. So the big opportunity for India would be to be able to sell EV compact cars at an affordable price protecting the profitability… This is what we are working on but it is not decided… This is what we are trying to do,” he added.