Tesla’s entry into the Indian market has been hinted at multiple times in the past as well, so we suggest you take this with a grain of salt
Elon Musk may be one of the biggest entrepreneurs out this century, but he is extremely notorious for his shenanigans. From heavy-handed pranks about going bankrupt, to naming his child ‘X Æ A-Xii’ (yes he changed it, not sure if its better this way), the man has given a lot of fuel to the internet fires. The list also includes teasing Tesla’s arrival in India.
In 2019, Elon Musk had stated that Tesla cars might be available in India as early as 2020. Later that year, in August, the company had revealed that because Indian laws and taxation policies provided no benefit of EV manufacturers, the company wouldn’t be setting up shop in India anytime soon.
Recently, Arvind Gupta, a businessman based in New Delhi, tweeted out to Mr. Musk, asking about the status of a Tesla Model 3 which he apparently booked four years ago. Surprisingly, Elon answered the tweet, apologizing for the delay and suggesting that the car’s (and the brand’s) launch will happen soon. We, however, are a little skeptical.
With India still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the automobile industry has taken a huge hit. Manufacturers are struggling to regain sales momentum, and although the recovery is steady, it is quite slow. It wouldn’t be smart for Tesla to enter our market during such turbulent times. Also, the EV infrastructure still hasn’t seen any significant development.
There aren’t many electric charging stations, not even in metropolitan cities. This makes the prospect of buying an EV quite impractical. It should also be noted that Tesla’s current line-up only consists of premium electric vehicles, with price tags far too high compared to the regular passenger cars buyers prefer in our market. The cheapest Tesla, Model 3, costs an equivalent of Rs. 29 lakh. As such, the brand wouldn’t be able to generate a healthy sales volume in India.
That said, there is one simple yet expensive way for Tesla to enter India. As Tesla would only be able to create a niche for itself, mostly with low volume luxury cars, it would be better to simply focus on that. It would be smarter for the brand to simply launch its cars as limited CBU imports. Tesla could also avoid homologation, the same way Skoda and VW have done with the Karoq and T-Roc, respectively.