Tesla is seeking lower import taxes on electric vehicles in India by writing to the country’s government ministries. The electric car company said it would boost demand and generate revenue for the government.
Tesla has been working for several years to enter India for electric vehicle sales. Producing vehicles domestically within India’s borders is most ideal for companies and customers as import duties can double the cost of a vehicle. However, Tesla has finally started making some moves toward building and producing electric cars at a new factory in India. Earlier this year, Tesla applied for and received two licenses to give the company permission to operate as a vehicle manufacturer.
This could take several years, and Tesla knows it. According to sources close to the situation, Tesla is now attempting to get in touch with Indian ministries to discuss a possible reduction of import duties on electric cars. Reuters initially published the report.
In a letter to Ministries and Niti Aayog, India’s leading think-tank, Tesla argues that slashing imports of fully assembled electric cars to 40% would be more appropriate than the current 60% rate for cars under $40,000 and 100% for those above $40,000. Tesla only has its Model 3 Standard Range+ variant under the $40,000 threshold. This would impose a 100% tax on all of its vehicles, except for this configuration.
“The argument is that at 40% import duty, electric cars can become more affordable, but the threshold is still high enough to compel companies to manufacture locally if demand picks up,” one source, who declined to be identified, said.
The argument Tesla brings to the table is a good one: not only is India a prime candidate for electrification due to a large population and high pollution levels in the country that would favor sustainable energy, but it is a market that is thirsty for Tesla. The company has been requested in India for several years, and CEO Elon Musk has been attempting to enter the market. However, the ideas Tesla brings to the table could be turned away by politicians, like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has supported high import taxes to increase local manufacturing efforts.
Importing vehicles into the country would give Tesla a better idea of demand and whether it would be worth entering the market and building an India Gigafactory. However, the sources indicated that the company’s plan to begin sales is not dependent on a change in government policy.
Tesla could import vehicles from Gigafactory Shanghai in China to Indian customers if import taxes are lowered. However, this could be a difficult term to agree to as India’s Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari, said that India would be willing to offer incentives to insure Tesla’s costs in the country is less than what it is in China. However, Tesla must manufacture its vehicles within the country.