GST Impact on Car Prices and Automobile Industry
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Impact of GST on Automobile Sector

The 14-year-long journey of Goods and Service tax (GST) finally culminated on July 1, 2017 with the implementation of the biggest tax reform of India in 70 years of independence. While the government of India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the moment of ‘Good and Simple Taxation System’ for the benefit of common people, small traders and industry as a whole; the opposition parties have slammed the establishment for forcing a half-baked GST regime over the taxpayers.

The whole issue about the impact of GST on the auto industry hovers around the compliance of the new taxation system by the sector as a whole. The outlined benefits of GST on auto industry are primarily simplifying logistics and constraining the operational and manufacturing costs, the compliance is something industry is vary about.

In order to reap the benefits of GST you need to take a close look to ensure the compliance of GST by both the parties you are directly linked to. Whether you are a business owner or a buyer of a car, scooter or moped, you need to be equipped to take on the GST ferry. You can use the support of ASP and GST suvidha providers authorised by the government to understand the details of compliance and related concerns.

What started as a Single Nation Single Taxation drive has largely unified 17 different taxes including various excise duties, octroi, service tax, VAT, and many more. However a nation of more than a billion people has ideologue ready to delineate GST as another 17th tax. The myth is widespread like a cacophony before the elephant starts to walk.

To brace with the impact of GST Indian Automobile Industry offered pre GST discounts on cars, scooters and bikes. The discounts poured in throughout the June as the Auto majors like Maruti Suzuki, Toyota, Hyundai, Honda and mostly all players announced big rate cuts in a race to trim their inventory ahead of GST.

Amidst all the turmoil and apprehensions, July’17 went loudly ahead than the previous sluggish months and ended with a bang for the entire industry with Maruti Suzuki, Honda Cars and Ford India grabbing the podium. While The Maruti Suzuki recorded a staggering domestic growth of 22.4% in July ’17 as against July’16 Honda Cars too came out with flying colors with an astounding rise of 21.74%, as compared to July 2016.

The initial GST ambiguities seem to be settling down and the festivity ahead will only add ice on the cake. To understand the impact of GST on the industry as a whole, you need to understand its effect on various business operations including production, procurement, pricing and sales strategy.

Simplification of Logistics with Input Tax Credit

GST has been introduced to subsume the current indirect tax regime which used to attract several duties and taxes on the sale of vehicles and spares and accessories. The previous taxation regime included:

  • Central Excise Duty
  • Additional Excise Duty
  • Infrastructure Cess
  • CVD and Additional Import Duty
  • VAT on intra State sales
  • CST on Interstate sales

Currently, all these resulted in cascading effect and increased the product price. However, now it is expected that product cost will be substantially reduced due to seamless input tax credit (ITC) across the supply chain– from manufacturer, to supplier, to agent, to final buyer all can claim input credit for tax paid on purchases.

Now the businesses would be able to claim ITC on various elements across the supply chain like lease rentals, IT services and freight charges. The bottlenecks related to logistics and transportation of units from one state to another state would also be wiped off. The reduced cost will in effect reduce the price and raise the demand and growth in the sector. The consumer in India is price savvy and companies never fail to use the event to bring sale and discounts. Nevertheless, post-GST rollout, Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, Toyota, Nissan and Renault India have also announced the discounts to pass GST benefit to the end buyer.

Reduction in Operating Cost

With elimination of CST, companies need not maintain warehouses and C&F agents at multiple state points. The warehousing infrastructure could be clubbed and lower the operating costs in the supply chain. Further with the inclusion of business overheads such as advertising, business promotion under Input tax credit, the operation cost would be further reduced.

Impact on Working Capital

This would be a huge concern for the dealers as the supply is taxable in GST. On the date of vehicle transfer, GST would be paid and it would lock the capital. Now the dealer would be required to pay GST on the same day as he receives the advance and it will hurt their outflow. Another cash lock would be when the auto manufacturers would offer free services/warranties as sales’ benefit to their customers (at the time of sale of vehicles). They would pre-pay GST on the issue date of the coupon while customers would be using the service on a later date.

Impact on Auto Valuation after GST

The base GST rate has been set at 28% besides a cess (1% to 15%) on vehicles of different categories and sizes. Together both will impact the end prices.

Low Impact on Two Wheelers

The impact of GST is marginal on two-wheelers sector as the levy is 28 % on engines below 350cc and 31% on engine above 350 cc is 31%. Earlier the segment was charged with 30.2 %. Largely the impact on prices of 81% of market would be broadly unaffected.

High Impact on Commercial Vehicles

The commercial vehicle segment comprises commercial vehicles and three-wheelers. Earlier the segment was paying 12.5 % Excise Duty + 1 % NCCD + 12.5 % VAT and 2 % CST which totalled to overall 30.2 % of tax. Herein three-wheelers were excluded of 1% of NCCD. After GST, the overall impact on the segment is a slight dip of 2.2 % as the levy is 28%. So, the impact in valuation is again negligible. Similarly, there would be no change in the prices of tractors. The maximum effect would be visible on a new category being introduced for minibuses ferrying up to 13 passengers. Besides the base rate, the passenger vehicle would invite a 15 % cess on them shooting up the total GST to 43%, which is a major cause of concern.

Low Impact on Passenger Vehicles

Small cars (both petrol and diesel variants; engine below 1200 cc)

The economic car section would attract the base rate of 28% GST along with a cess of 1% and 3% which is smaller than current 31.4% to 33.5%. In effect, the price of this segment would be neutral or reduced marginally. Bigger sedans and SUVs (1,500cc or more engine size, Over 4,000 mm length and Over 170mm ground clearance). In this segment, the buyer will enjoy the price cut. The current tax rate was 46.6% to 55.3% which was much higher than the new GST rate of 28 % (+15 % cess).

Green Vehicles under the Purview of GST

A 15% cess above the base GST rate of 28% on green vehicles is questionable as it is far above the existing 30.3% rate. While the officials have claimed that smaller hybrid vehicles are ruled out from additional cess of 15%.

Demo Cars Heavily Taxed

GST demands a high tax rate on the demo cars. Currently, these vehicles were taxed at 0.5% while they are sold in the used car market after a year or so. With GST, tax rates of 28% and 43% of the sale value would be levied.


All in all, the sentiment all across appears positive so far for the single manufacturer levy. However, it would be too early to pass the judgment. According to Moody’s Investors Service, the implementation of the GST is expected to lead to higher GDP growth and increased tax revenues for the Indian government. The success would largely depend on the integrated compliance by all the players alike.

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CA Ankita Mathur
CA Ankita Mathur
Ankita, a Big 4 alumna, is a tax expert at H&R Block (India) with vast experience in managing GST-related business services. An avid traveller, Ankita is a regular contributor to the CAclubindia and loves helping people understand about GST and helping companies be GST compliant.