Due to various macroeconomic factors, the Indian automotive industry has not achieved its full growth potential during the last 12-18 months.
In addition, the government’s recent demonetization policy has impacted consumer spending and created an unfavorable environment for the auto industry on the whole.
Amid these challenges, key stakeholders within the auto industry were hoping for a favorable budget which could revive consumer demand and catalyze growth in the industry.
What was expected
The auto industry had a fair bit of expectations from the Union Budget 2017 (annual budget of India). Many industry players expected last week’s budget announcement to offer reductions in existing tax structures, various incentives for R&D expenditure and promotion of hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs), and lower interest rates on auto financing. Some of the key items on the industry’s wish list were:
In order to support and boost government’s ‘Make in India’ program aimed at encouraging companies to manufacture their products in India, the industry expected some impetus in the form of lower taxation and other financial incentives
To increase vehicle sales, the industry expected lower interest rates on auto financing and larger fund allocation for the development of mobility infrastructure
EV and hybrid carmakers hoped for various tax exemptions and subsidies under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles in India (FAME) scheme
OEMs expected the government to continue its 200% weighted deduction on R&D expenses
Industry players hoped for further clarifications with regards to incentives, timeline, etc. for vehicle scraping policy
What was received
Slashing 5% of corporate tax for enterprises with turnover under ₹500 million (US$7.4 million). This will benefit tier-2 and tier-3 auto components manufacturers and help them in further expanding their business as well as their R&D capabilities
The government earmarked ₹1,750 million (~US$25.9 million) in funding for the FAME scheme, which will further enhance the promotion of eco-friendly vehicles in the country
Although there were no substantial announcements in the budget that could directly benefit the auto industry, it surely has provided growth opportunities for it. Firstly, the government has increased its fund allocation by 11% to ₹640 billion (US$9.5 billion) for the development of national highways. In addition, 2,000 km of coastal roads are planned to be developed to improve the connectivity of ports and remote villages. These measures are expected to fuel demand for commercial vehicles in the coming years. Secondly, the income tax deduction of 5% for individual tax payers earning under ₹500,000 (US$7,425) is expected to boost personal consumption and spur demand among first-time buyers of passenger cars. Furthermore, the budget focused on boosting rural consumption by allocating more funds through various schemes. It is projected that these schemes will stimulate the demand for farming vehicles as well as two-wheelers in rural India.
For now amid no significant changes, all eyes are on the goods and services tax (GST) implementation expected to take place in July 2017. Industry experts anticipate that the rollout of GST will not only help to standardize various tax aspects, but it will also reduce costs across the industry’s entire supply and value chains. Therefore, a significant share of the impact will be seen only after the implementation of GST. Given the current scenario, we anticipate growth in the industry to rebound largely driven by government’s strong focus on enhancing consumer consumption and infrastructure development.