Tesla is benchmarking cars in India, and while there is plenty of room for us to get excited based on recent developments about the potential for market entry, there are some reservations that should keep enthusiasm at bay.
There have been discussions between Tesla and India for years, as CEO Elon Musk and Prime Minister Narendra Modi met for the first time in 2016. Modi, who made his way to Tesla’s Fremont Factory, has had regular discussions with both Musk and other Tesla executives since then. Other government officials have also been around the talks, hoping to finally land on a deal that would bring Tesla to the country.
This year, things have intensified. Last week, Model 3 and Model Y vehicles were spotted being benchmarked in India.
A Tesla Model Y Long Range⚡ with a big dent has been spotted at ‘Mahindra’ testing facility in Pune!!@Tesla you have the opportunity to do some funny things here😂.
📸 : Carversal pic.twitter.com/UJPiutsBtw
— Tesla Club India® (@TeslaClubIN) August 20, 2023
White Tesla Model 3 Long Range spotted again after a long time⚡️.
Charging at Tata Power Charger at IOCL, Agarkar Nagar, Pune.
— Tesla Club India® (@TeslaClubIN) August 18, 2023
Testing has occurred previously for the automaker in India.
In mid-June 2021, Tesla had numerous Model 3 units in India for testing, according to local sources. Vehicles were there so they could obtain approval from the Automotive Research Association of India, also known as ARAI.
Ultimately, these tests fell short of establishing Tesla’s market entry, and not because they were not compliant. Tesla and India had still felt differences in terms of what was reasonable for the automaker’s requests for a reduction in import duties, which would double the price of its vehicles.
India was not interested in having Tesla test demand by importing cars from China. The country’s government has funneled billions into the Made in India campaign, which emphasizes the importance of domestic manufacturing across nearly all sectors to help support local industry and the economy.
But based on meetings earlier this year between Musk and Modi, these differences may have been pushed aside, and things are getting more serious than ever before.
Tesla is already in talks to open a factory in India that would produce a $24,000 mass-market vehicle, some reports have indicated.
Additionally, Musk has said he is “confident Tesla will be in India and that he is hopeful “we’ll be able to announce something in the not-too-distant future.”
Although it seems likely Tesla will finally make its entry in India at some point in the near future, there is no indication that it is solidified as of yet.
However, even the future rivals of Tesla are already acknowledging the automaker is arriving, and they are preparing to duel with it as EV competition continues to ramp significantly.
Earlier this month, Mahindra Group CEO Anish Shah said:
“Tesla or anyone else coming in does not faze us. At one point, Mahindra was written off when all the global majors were coming into India. Today, we continue to have the number one market share in SUVs from a revenue standpoint.”
If anything is to come from the potential partnership between India and Tesla, which would see the EV maker’s vehicles finally arrive, the automaker stands to gain a new region of potential sales, which is one of the reasons Baird recommended Tesla in its “Best Ideas” list.
Tesla has established some office space in India as well, marking another indication that market entrance is potentially imminent.