Indian automakers are finally set on proposing the idea of budging on import duties that would allow foreign automakers to sell cars in the market for a reduced tax. However, the deal is being used as a part of a potential trade deal with Britain, which would not help Tesla finally enter the market.
A report from Reuters stated that this is the first time Indian carmakers have backed import duty rollbacks as the government is encouraging the companies to relinquish their need for ultimate control of the country’s automotive market. The report included a quote from an anonymous source that stated India’s Commerce Minister, Piyush Goyal, told the country’s automakers, represented by the lobby group Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), that they needed to budge or the government would make them budge.
“The message from Goyal was clear – if companies don’t come up with a proposal on lowering taxes, the government will do it for them,” the source said.
The rollbacks will only affect car factories run in Britain, which includes Nissan, BMW, and Jaguar Land Rover. However, SIAM is potentially worried about the idea that this move could set the precedent of reduced import duty negotiations with other regions, including the EU, Japan, or South Korea. However, Goyal’s intensity regarding his desire for some movement on the duties remains.
Tesla will miss out on the duties…unless it builds a production facility in Britain
Tesla will unfortunately not be able to take advantage of the reduced import duties, which is something the company has petitioned hard for. Tesla has tried for several years to enter India, but it first wanted to test the demand levels for its vehicles through imports. If Tesla could justify building a factory in India through strong sales figures with reduced import duties, it would commit to building a Gigafactory in the country, Elon Musk said. However, India was unwilling to do this unless Tesla explicitly committed to building a factory first.
This would have been a monumental risk because there is a chance that Tesla’s cars would not sell well in India. Then, without having adequate demand, they would spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build a factory in a country where an inadequate number of customers buy the cars.
It was a strike to Tesla’s plans: the company was definitely interested. It had hired a team specific to the Indian market, outfitted with experts in the country.
While Tesla is certainly exploring the potential for a new Gigafactory, Canada is the favorite. However, the UK, which is constituted by Britain and Northern Ireland, was considered at one point for a Gigafactory location, as reported in 2020 and 2021.
In 2020, Tesla was rumored to be a potential suitor for a 650-acre site in Somerset, a county in South West England. A spokesperson for the Department of International Trade indicated that it was “working closely with partners to scope out sites for new investment into electric vehicle research, development, and manufacturing across the UK.” Speculation only continued when Minister of State for Business Kwasi Kwarteng supported the potential Tesla factory, stating that Somerset has the “manufacturing skill and competence to be able to sustain an excellent Gigafactory.”
Ultimately, nothing came of those rumors, and Tesla’s next Gigafactory will most likely end up in Canada.
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