While Tesla has seen notable challenges breaking into India in the past, the electric vehicle maker appears to be receiving a red carpet welcome of sorts this time around. This bodes well for Tesla, and it could result in the company not competing with some of its strongest rivals in the country, at least in the near future.
Tesla is the world leader in pure electric vehicles, but in China, the company has a number of strong competitors. These include BYD, which outsell Tesla in China in terms of New Energy Vehicles (NEVs) sales. BYD’s sales of pure electric cars lag against Tesla’s, but in terms of raw NEV volumes, the Chinese automaker is far ahead of the American EV company.
India is an increasingly important market in the auto industry. Thus, companies that could attain a lead against rivals in the Indian market could establish a notable lead against their rivals. This was hinted at by Jasmeet Khurana of the World Economic Forum in a comment to Reuters.
“The future of who wins in India will have some bearing on who wins globally in the EV race,” Khurana said.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met in New York back in June, and since then, it appears that the EV maker is being fast-tracked for its entry into the country. Tesla is reportedly in discussions with Indian officials for the buildout of a plant that would have the capacity to produce a new low-cost electric car that’s expected to be priced at around $24,000.
Sources reportedly close to the matter have noted that the talks had continued over the past week, with Tesla allegedly discussing the details of its plans. Modi is reportedly tracking the discussions’ developments as well.
Amidst these circumstances, Chinese automaker BYD, which is arguably Tesla’s largest rival in China, seems to be taking a backseat in India. BYD had previously aimed to secure clearance for a $1 billion investment into the country, but later reports suggested that the company is no longer keen to secure the deal. BYD is also facing an investigation over allegations that it had underpaid import taxes in the country.
Indian officials are reportedly worried as well about the national security implications of Chinese-made vehicles in the country. An official has reportedly noted that India is “uncomfortable with Chinese automakers” as well.
Without some of its strongest rivals in India, Tesla could very well expand its reach into the country’s growing EV sector without any issues. This bodes well for Tesla, especially if it is able to release a small, affordable car that’s a good fit for the Indian market. Sam Fiorani of AutoForecast Solutions stated that ultimately, India presents some great possibilities for Tesla.
“Tesla has become a desirable product in name alone. Add to that an affordable product tailored for the Indian market, and it has the potential to be a hit locally,” Fiorani said.
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