Tesla will not be shipping its electric vehicles made at Gigafactory Shanghai in China to India, the country’s Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari, reiterated during a government conference on Tuesday.
Gadkari is only repeating what he said in late 2021 as Tesla continued to negotiate with Indian politicians on terms that would allow the electric automaker to test demand in the country before committing to build a production facility there. However, Tesla wants to test demand by importing vehicles that it builds in other countries: most likely from Gigafactory Shanghai in China or Gigafactory Berlin in Germany, which just opened in the first quarter.
India is unwilling to agree to those terms and has been trying to push for Tesla to consider committing to a new production facility in India. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said last year that it would test demand in the country through imports before committing to a facility, but Indian officials are unwilling to budge over a year after Tesla registered itself as a company with the country’s economic ministry.
Gadkari said at the conference on Tuesday, according to Reuters, “Making in China and selling here is not a good proposition.” It is essentially the same thing he said in late 2021 when he also denied any potential talks of Tesla shipping cars from China to India. “I have told Tesla that don’t sell electric cars in India, which your company has manufactured in China. You should manufacture electric cars in India and also export cars from India,” Gadkari told the Hindu Stan Times. “Whatever support you (Tesla) want, will be provided by our government.”
While Tesla and India have worked diligently to reach a deal that would allow the automaker to test demand through imports and India to have a firm commitment from Tesla to build a production facility there, relatively no progress has been made. India has a primary focus on boosting local manufacturing as a part of Prime Minister Narendra Nodi’s “Make in India” campaign, which was launched nearly eight years ago.
We reported in January that, although the Make In India program has been in effect for several years, it has not been overly successful. Within the first five years of the initiative, India’s manufacturing GDP was the lowest it had been in twenty years. It dropped 1.2% in the first five years following the launch of Make In India, although the growth rate of manufacturing globally increased 6.9% from 2014-15 to 2019-20. $27 billion has been set aside by India to make this program successful, and although Tesla’s vehicles have been the best-selling EVs globally, it is a massive gamble to think it would unequivocally be an identical situation in India just because the cars sell well elsewhere.
What the future holds for the Tesla-India partnership is up in the air. It seems that, until one side is willing to budge from their needs in the deal, talks will not advance. India has set aside too much money and too much time to increase domestic manufacturing efforts, and Tesla’s potential India Gigafactory will cost billions of dollars to build and billions more to operate, which is too much of a financial liability for the company to assume.
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