Tesla Incorporated, the electric vehicle automaker from the US, has reportedly stepped its first foot in India. The automaker with a global cult following is said to have registered a company — Tesla Motors India and Energy Private Limited. Reuters reports that a regulatory filing showed on Tuesday that the company had been incorporated on January 8. With an office registered in Bengaluru, Karnataka, the filing revealed three directors of the company have been named. One of which is David Feinstein, currently a Senior Director at Tesla. Over the years, Tesla’s founder Elon Musk, tweeted his interest to enter the Indian market. But retracted every time claiming high import tax rates, and lack of EV charging infrastructure making Tesla’s arrival unviable.
The Indian government has since been pushing for electric vehicles more aggressively in the recent past to cut down on its oil import bill. In December 2020, Nitin Gadkari, India’s minister of transport had confirmed to our sister publication – The Indian Express during the idea exchange that after successful talks with Tesla, the US-based automaker will begin sales operations soon and may look at manufacturing its vehicles in India. Reuters also reports that India is planning to offer $4.6 billion (~Rs 3.3 lakh crore) in incentives to companies to set up advanced battery manufacturing facilities.
Tesla Models for India?
Currently, Tesla’s office in Bengaluru is strictly said to be a technical centre. The office in the IT hub region will aid in the company’s R&D requirements. Tesla has not issued any statement for any product launches in India at the moment.
However, going by the statement issued by the transport minister in India via his official tweet, Tesla’s sales operations at least is likely to begin sometime in the near future. Tesla’s global product line up consists of the Model S sedan, the Model X SUV, Model 3 compact model and the Model Y compact crossover. India being a price sensitive market, we expect vehicles like the Tesla Model 3 to make its debut in India with. But as India is a big market for small SUVs, the Model Y cannot be ruled out either.
The current electric vehicles sold in India include the Tata Nexon EV at the bottom end of the spectrum around Rs 13-16 lakh. The MG ZS EV and the Hyundai Kona Electric are the other two EVs to be sold in India as well which range between Rs 20-30 lakh. However, in the luxury market, Mercedes-Benz launched the EQC electric SUV in 2020. Now Jaguar is gearing up to launch the i-Pace electric SUV. Audi India has also been teasing the arrival of the E-Tron electric SUV for sometime. But the automaker is awaiting adequate charging infrastructure to be in place before they officially put the vehicle on sale. These SUVs fight in the ballpark of Rs 90 lakh to Rs 1 crore (ex-showroom).
If the Model 3 or the Model Y were to arrive, they would fill the gap in the middle — around the Rs 50-60 lakh space.
Tesla – The catalyst of the EV that India needs
Tesla’s arrival to India is expected to be a key catalyst for India’s automotive revolution towards the battery electric vehicle. While many automakers around the world have been making EVs for some time, Tesla with its Supercharging network and its modular skateboard platform architecture for BEVs showed that electric vehicles can be a reality. Tesla would have to set up its vast Supercharger network in India first. Product launches would subsequently follow it. Around the globe, the Tesla Supercharger network has laid the path for the creation of the EV charging infrastructure. It is possible that if Tesla does enter the Indian market, it could directly have an impact towards the acceleration of the development of a charging network in the country. Thus, allowing for a more accelerated uptake of EVs themselves in India.
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