China’s Great Wall may drive Rs. 7,000 cr investment into India

NEW DELHI: China’s largest SUV maker, Great Wall Motors, has registered an Indian subsidiary and is planning to invest close to Rs. 7,000 crore in the country, even as the market is going through one of its worst slowdowns.

The Indian subsidiary, Haval Motor India with its office in Gurgaon, was registered before October, which means it won’t be eligible for the low corporate tax rate of 15% (17.01% with surcharge) for new manufacturing units in India announced by the government last month. The company, therefore, is considering setting up another corporate entity here under the name of Great Wall, a person in the know told ET.

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The company has written to the Prime Minister’s Office, seeking an appointment for its chairman Wei Jianjun with Narendra Modi in the first week of next month, the people said. A formal announcement of the India plans may come after this meeting, this person said.

Great Wall didn’t respond until press time Sunday to an email seeking comment. The company has been scouting for sites in at least five states — Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Maharashtra has emerged as the strongest contender, followed by Gujarat, the people said. A delegation of Maharashtra industry department officials was in China last week to invite the company to the state, industry insiders told ET.

“As of now, the company is looking at both greenfield and brownfield options in Maharashtra. It is considering the land acquired by Chinese truck maker Foton in Chakan near Pune,” one of the people said. General Motor’s Talegaon plant is another facility it is actively considering.

Foton had acquired land over three years ago, but since then no progress has been made on its India plans. GM, which has exited the India market 2017, has already sold its Gujarat plant to another Chinese carmaker, SAIC. It still makes cars at Talegaon, Maharashtra, for exports.

In fact, the person said Great Wall had signed a memorandum of understanding with GM for the Talegaon plant in September, and if all went well, it could take possession of it by next year May-June. The company was interested in the plant because it would speed up its debut in India to as early as mid-2021. If it decides to go for construction a new factory, the launch could happen only around mid-2022.

The Chinese company is looking for fresh concessions from the Maharashtra government as the earlier sops given to GM were utilised by it. Its executives had sought a meeting with the Maharashtra chief minister, but due to the ongoing political impasse in the state following the assembly election, it doesn’t expect it to happen before the end of November.

An entry of Great Wall will likely stiffen the competition in the utility vehicle space. SAIC-owned Morris Garages, which launched its mid-size Hector SUV earlier this year, has seen strong demand.

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