India’s union transport minister Nitin Gadkari recently extended a bold invitation to electric car maker Tesla, noting that the country is ready to offer robust incentives to ensure low production costs for the EV maker. Gadkari went so far as to state that if Tesla commits to producing its electric vehicles in India, its production costs would be lower than its operations in China.
The minister’s statements were related during an interview with Reuters, where he assured that Tesla’s costs in India would notably low. “Rather than assembling (the cars) in India, they should make the entire product in the country by hiring local vendors. Then we can give higher concessions. The government will make sure the production cost for Tesla will be the lowest when compared with the world, even China, when they start manufacturing their cars in India. We will assure that,” Gadkari said.
Gadkari’s pitch comes just weeks after Tesla registered a company in India, a move that the electric vehicle community has widely regarded as a step towards the EV maker’s formal arrival in the country. Sources reportedly familiar with the matter have noted that Tesla has plans to start importing and selling the Model 3 in India, perhaps as early as mid-2021.
India has expressed its intentions to boost the local production of electric vehicles, batteries, and other electric car components to cut costly imports and reduce pollution in its key cities. However, India may be fighting an uphill battle when it comes to its efforts to encourage Tesla to build a local electric vehicle production facility like Gigafactory Shanghai, considering the country’s fledgling EV market. Last year, India’s EV market only accounted for about 5,000 out of 2.4 million cars sold, though these numbers were partly influenced by the country’s weak charging infrastructure and the high cost of electric vehicles.
China, on the other hand, has a mature EV market, with the country selling 1.25 million new energy passenger vehicles in 2020. About a third of Tesla’s sales in the past year were accommodated by its Shanghai-based electric vehicle production facility. Despite this, Gadkari believes that Tesla has a lot to gain by establishing a facility in India since the country could be an export hub. The minister also noted that about 80% of lithium-ion battery components are now locally-made in India. “I think it’s a win-win situation for Tesla,” he said.
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