Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is planning on beginning local production in the next 12 to 18 months in India, described as a “hugely important” market for the company and its biggest market outside China, according to a number of media reports.

The company may even use the country as an export hub.

Xiaomi is talking to local partners and state governments as it considers locations to set up a manufacturing unit.

Not just that, but next week it will start selling its latest device, the Redmi 2, in India for $112, less than half the cost of smartphones sold by Samsung and Apple in the market, along with setting up 100 “experience” stores.

Xiaomi entered the Indian market in July last year and is already the fifth-largest phone company in the country, where it has sold over a million phones in five months via online retailer

Now, it also wants to expand its stores from 40 to 100 in cities like Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore in the first week of April, where customers can “experience” their devices, but not actually purchase them.

Manu Jain, the head of Xiaomi’s Indian arm, told the Wall Street Journal that a team in Bangalore is looking into how their phones can be customised for Indians.

According to Hugo Barra, Xiaomi’s vice president of international operations, the company wants to “build deeply rooted Indian products and there is nothing more powerful than being a local business.”

“We want to have a significant amount of research and development done here — not only for India but the rest of the world,” he added.

However, he did not comment on how much the company, itself valued at $45 billion, will invest in the country.

Xiaomi hasn’t necessarily had an easy ride in India. Last month, an Indian court said it will investigate allegations by Ericsson that Xiaomi was going against an order that banned the sale of some of its smartphones in the country.

In its defence, the company said the phones were being offered unofficially via a third-party website called, against which it planned on taking legal action.