Arch-rivals of yore are now frenemies in India. “Welcome Audi E-Tron to our electric car company,” Mercedes-Benz India tweeted on Thursday.Such bonhomie is rare between Mercedes-Benz and Audi. In the Indian automobile industry, it is viewed as a significant change of stance by the two German luxury-car makers, as they bend backwards to entice customers to buy electric vehicles in a country that is at an initial stage of putting up charging infrastructure.Mercedes, in March, opened its showrooms and charging infrastructure for the Jaguar I-Pace, which gave its British rival access to 100 charging stations.These partnerships in an otherwise fiercely competitive landscape ensure the automotive ecosystem grows towards an electric future with each other’s support.84740007Audi India head Balbir Singh Dhillon said Audi reciprocated the gesture from Mercedes-Benz, opening its charging infrastructure to all competing carmakers. Users of any car brand can use the MyAudi App to spot a charging infrastructure. “Electrification is a journey which we need to walk together between all OEMs (automakers),” Dhillon told ET.There are about 1,800 charging stations in India, and the count is likely to grow multifold in the coming three years, say industry players. About 300 fast-chargers are being set up in India through an alliance of private power companies, government agencies and vehicle makers.Such collaborations are happening elsewhere as well. In Europe, Mercedes-Benz, BMW Group, Ford Motor, Hyundai Motor Group and the Volkswagen Group including its Audi and Porsche subsidiaries have formed a joint venture, called IONITY, to build a high-power charging network for EVs along major highways. About 3,600 fast chargers are being set up at key locations under this venture.Electrification at the top end of the India market has been in the spotlight since Elon Musk announced his India entry plans for Tesla. Since then, the largest luxury-car maker has debuted its electric offering, the Mercedes-Benz EQC, which was soon sold out in India for 2021 delivery. The Jaguar I-Pace followed and now Audi entered the fray. Volvo and Porsche are also likely to bring their offerings in the coming six months. Over the next 12-24 months, close to a dozen new electric models are expected to hit the Indian roads.It is a case of more the merrier when it comes to electric vehicles and Mercedes-Benz is exploring adding new models to the India portfolio, said Santosh Iyer, senior vice-president of sales and marketing at the local unit of the company.”More models mean more options to consumers, and we will collectively educate the buyers in their journey towards electrification. By sharing charging infrastructure, we can take away the anxiety for the prospective buyers,” he said.
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