Musk says Tesla will arrive in India as early as this summer


Tesla, Inc. has confirmed that an India launch could take place as early as this summer. The announcement came via a tweet, after Tesla CEO Elon Musk replied to a user who asked, “Eagerly waiting for Tesla to launch in India. Any plans to do it? If so then When?” Musk replied, “Hoping for summer this year.”

Musk has been busy in February. He toured a Washington, D.C. sewer tunnel and revealed that Tesla’s first tunnel had already been dug beneath SpaceX headquarters. He’s expected to attend next week’s official Tesla Dubai launch. And SpaceX will have more missions in February.

Why is India such a favorable market for Tesla’s electric vehicles?

Ankit Bhatt, Senior Project Fellow at Gujarat Energy Research & Management Institute, India, offers several reasons why India and electric vehicles are a good match. Until recently, he says, low awareness, a negligible charging infrastructure, and lower vehicle ranges contributed to a very slow pace of electric vehicle (EV) development in India. Then, in 2010–2012, after the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy offered an EV subsidy, the EV market seemed to be on the rise.

However, that enthusiastic rally was short-lived. Sales did increase from about 8,000 EVs in 2013 to 2015  with 21,000 EVs sold. An incentive called FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electrics) was unveiled for the years 2015-2017 to target EVs manufactured in India. Bhatt notes that these funds have multiple purposes including pilot projects, creating public awareness, or developing charging infrastructure through innovative business models. He adds that,

Since the cost of EVs is significantly higher than their petrol/diesel counterparts, it makes very little sense to introduce any more EVs in the compact & ultra-compact segments. Until the cost comes down to a break-even point — where no government support is needed to create demand for EVs — I think Indian manufacturers and startups must target the luxury & sports segment, where customers are willing to pay a premium.

Enter Tesla, whose audience around the world is arguably more affluent and whose newest, more affordable Model 3 will have still target an upscale clientele. Tesla added India in 2016 to its list of countries which could pre-order the Tesla Model 3.

Tesla’s entry into the Indian market will shift Indian manufacturing

Existing auto manufacturers in India will be driven as a result of the Musk announcement to accelerate their own launches of electric vehicles to serve as competition to the Tesla brand. Moreover, India’s high demand for Tesla’s batteries will spur plans for manufacturing operations with Gigafactory installations in India. And, for Indian consumers who have range anxiety, Musk had confirmed in previous comments that a comprehensive India network of superchargers would be made available.

Musk’s plans for Tesla India coalesce with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of 175 Gigawatts of clean energy by 2022 for India, which was piqued during a 2015 tour of the Tesla California campus.

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