Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Tesla cars in India: Key facts you need to know


Tesla cars are coming to India in June 2021 with Model 3 electric sedan. Bookings for Tesla cars will commence in January 2021.

Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk has unmasked the American EV manufacturer’s India entry plan. Tesla will entre into the Indian market in 2021. As it seems, Tesla is about to commence receiving bookings for the Model 3 from Indian buyers from January 2021 onwards. The Model 3 compact sedan, most affordable car by Tesla is expected to hit showrooms in June 2021.

In a reply to Tesla Club India, Elon Musk confirmed that next year (2021) Tesla will enter the Indian market. He also confirmed that the Tesla Model 3 will be available in other countries like Brazil, South Africa, South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore and Ireland as well.

As Elon Musk hinted, the Model 3 would be the first among the Tesla cars in India.

Tesla will first start its sales operations in India and based on the customer response to the Tesla cars, the American EV manufacturer will consider local assembly and manufacturing, revealed the Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari.

India will be another major market for the world’s most valuable carmaker in Asia, after China, where Tesla has set up its Gigafactory and make Model 3 sedan. The carmaker has sold more than 50,000 electric cars in China after setting up the Gigafactory in Shanghai.

Interestingly, this is not the first time Elon Musk has talked about the EV company’s entry in India. However, with the situations for the electric vehicles in India evolved in the recent past, Tesla appears to be thinking it’s the ripe time for entry in the country.

Tesla opened orders for the Model 3 sedan in India back in April 2016. Even before that, in 2015, Elon Musk tweeted that local demand for lithium-ion cells in India might make setting up a Gigafactory in here a sensible decision in the long term. In 2017, Elon Musk talked about Tesla’s India entry multiple times in his tweets. However, in May 2018, Musk also said that ‘some challenging government regulations’ are delaying the launch of Tesla cars in India.

Now, with the Indian government emphasising more on electric vehicles and local manufacturing of zero-emission vehicles in the country, Tesla’s entry looks more realistic.

Tesla has already found some takers of the Model 3 sedan in India. Back in 2016, some famous Indian corporate stalwarts booked the electric sedan. The names include Paytm founder Vijay Sekhar Sharma, Mahesh Murthy, Vishal Gondal of GOQii, and Voonik CEO Sujayath Ali etc, at an amount of closely $1,000.

Tesla electric vehicle

What makes Tesla’s 2021 entry plan convincing

Several mass-market players like Hyundai, Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, MG Motor have already launched their respective electric cars in India, namely, Hyundai Kova EV, Tata Nexon EV, Tata Tigor EV, Mahindra e-Verito, MG e-ZS. Maruti Suzuki too is readying the carmaker’s first EV, based on the WagonR hatchback, which is currently in the testing phase.

Both Tata Motors and MG Motor India have already sold 1,000 models of the Nexon EV and e-ZS, respectively, since their January launch. The number of electric cars is expected to grow further with 15 more zero-emission passenger vehicles set to launch in India by 2022. This indicates how Indian consumers are opening up about adopting electric mobility.

The central government has reduced the Goods and Services Tax (GST) for the EVs to 5%. Besides that, the Government is also promoting electric mobility with various incentives. 11 state Governments across India including Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat have announced their EV policy and under which they will provide sops for the manufacturers to set up EV hubs.

The EV charging infrastructure, which has been a major concern triggering the range anxiety for the customers, if gradually improving. Several private companies like Tata Power are setting up Ev charging stations. Around 700 EV charging stations are planned to be set up by March 2021. Government agency EESL too said that it would install 10,000 EV charging points across India in next 3 years, including DC fast chargers.

Several luxury car brands like Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Audi, Volvo, Porsche have announced to launch their electric cars; namely Mercedes EQC, Jaguar I-Pace, Audi e-Tron, Volvo XC40 Recharge and Porsche Taycan respectively.

All of these above-mentioned moves have boosted the confidence of Tesla to finally decide about entering the Indian market.

Feasible Tesla cars for India

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Inc is likely to launch the Model 3 in India as its first car for the country, the cheapest Tesla car so far. The Tesla Model 3 is available in three different variants in the US, which are Standard Plus AWD, Long Range AWD and Performance (AWD). These three variants are priced at $37,990, $46,990 and $54,990 respectively. These three variants of Tesla Model 3 offer range 402 km, 518 km and 481 km respectively.

The official range for the Tesla Model 3 in India would be higher in order to lure the buyers, considering the Indian consumers would be focusing on value for money.

Tesla Inc has also announced that it is working on a new compact electric car, dubbed as Tesla Model 2. The Tesla Model 2 would launch in India at a later stage. The Ev maker has announced that this car will be priced at $25,000 in the US.

Tesla might launch the Model S and Model X as well. However, these would come in a lower number and as Completely Built Unit (CBU) or Completely Knocked Down (CKD) units, depending on demands.

Tesla Model Y

Tesla cars’ price in India

Tesla cars’ price in India would be competitive to the German luxury car brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. These German luxury auto brands assemble their cars in India in order to reduce the overall production cost, as this helps in reducing import duty from 100% to 30%.

The Model 3, first among the Tesla cars coming to India, is expected to be priced at around Rs 55-60 lakh (ex-showroom).

If Tesla Inc decides to assemble cars in India, it would be the second assembly plant of the American automaker following Tilburg, Netherlands.

Tesla car’s India hub

Several state governments have been attempting to lure the electric vehicle manufacturers to set up production facilities. These include Tamil Nadu, Karanataka etc. Tamil Nadu Government has already vowed to make the state one of the biggest EV manufacturing hubs in Asia.

Meanwhile, Karanataka Government has reportedly pitched the state’s capital city Bengaluru to Tesla Inc, as a potential location to set up a Gigafactory, where Tesla can make electric cars and batteries as well. Tesla already held preliminary talks with the Karnataka Government for a research and innovation unit in Bengaluru.

Interestingly, Bengaluru is the home to many of the electric vehicle startups in India. These include Ather Energy, Mahindra Electric, Ola Mobility etc. Apart from that, Daimler, Bosch, Toyota too have their units in the city. Karnataka was the first state in India to draw an EV policy back in 2017, under which the state government vowed to draw investment amounting to Rs 31,000 crore.

If Tesla decides to set up its factory in the Karnataka, it would certainly be a boost not only for the Southern state but for India’s e-mobility sector as well. According to an Avendus report published in July 2020, India’s EV market is expected to touch Rs 50,000 crore by 2025. The financial services firm also forecasts that more than 3 million EVs will be sold in India by 2025, with a majority of them being attributed to two and three-wheelers.

Also, as Tesla boss Elon Musk has expressed interest to sell batteries to other EV makers, the automaker’s entry in the country would help the overall e-vehicle market in the country.

Tesla’s entry in India will be a major boost for the ‘Self-reliant India’ and ‘Make-in-India’ campaigns initiated by the Narendra Modi Government.

Also Read: NITI Aayog proposes $4.6 billion incentives for battery makers to promote e-mobility

Mainak Das
Mainak Das
Working as a journalist since 2011. Started as a sports journalist and later begun writing as an auto journalist. Worked with The Economic Times, Discovery India etc. Also working as an independent PR consultant and car concierge.



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