Tesla's Indian Foray
The electric car giant from the United States saw a burst of popularity from the Indian market recently when they announced their plans of arriving in India, manufacturing and providing to the Indian customer base the luxury and comfort of its electric range of models, which come with the exceptional feature of driving itself. What followed this announcement was great apprehension among the Indian customers, the autonomous driving feature being the head turner! With the Tesla range being one of the most energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly car lines while also being a completely new entry to the luxury automotive market, almost everyone anticipated Tesla to be a huge hit with anybody who could afford it.
The biggest plus point for EVs though has been the subsidies that are being provided by the government under their plan to promote the purchase of electric vehicles, however, the cloud of uncertainty over the exact pricing for the Tesla still loomed largely hence the wait for having Tesla commonly among Indians has increased. Amidst all the excitement for Tesla’s entry into the market, there have been a few questions as well. Let’s find out what Tesla’s position is and its road map to Indian homes!
In October 2020, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, replied to a tweet asking about Tesla’s plan for India, saying “Next year for sure.” This tweet from Elon Musk instantly got the automotive industry buzzing and soon got another affirmative response on Tesla by the Union Road Transport Minister Shri Nitin Gadkari, who clarified the rumours in an interview with The Indian Express stating Tesla shall begin operations from the first half of 2021, beginning with sales by importing vehicles in the first phase and soon start the entire assembly and production of the vehicle in India itself if provided with a positive demand. Soon reports started surfacing how Musk was in negotiations with the Indian authorities of setting up the plant as well as offices in Bangalore.
Soon enough, January 8 2021, marks the official registration of Tesla India Motors and Energy in Bangalore. It is uncertain as to whether that will be a manufacturing unit or a sales office yet, Tesla is here to stay, that’s something that the people can be sure of! Bangalore has been a hub for the IT industry in India and also has seen a big boost in the automobile sector with central offices belonging to companies like Bosch, Continental and Fiat Chrysler among others. Tesla’s new registry at Lavelle Road, Bengaluru marks a very positive development for India’s advancements in the automobile industry. Tesla might not be affordable to a large set of Indian buyers, considering its price range touching over the 1 crore mark with ease, it’s presence though gives a big boost to any car company making a move towards developing an EV and bringing it to the market. Let’s take a look at what exactly Tesla has to offer for Indian customers.
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Tesla plans to begin its journey in India with its entry-level sedan, Model 3, which will bear a cost of approximately Rs 55 – 60 Lakhs and later expand its portfolio by adding the Model S and the Model X bearing a price of Rs 1.5 crore and 2 crores respectively. The highlight of the Tesla range comes in the form of their autonomous driving feature, which enables the driver to let the car drive itself and be at ease. This futuristic aspect is a Tesla special and the core of all the fanfare behind this car.
Tesla Model 3 comes with a 5-star rating safety rating by the US NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) in every test it has undergone be it the crash test or its side impact protection, along with the lowest risk of a rollover on the roads, Model 3 can be termed as among the safest cars to be in.
The car also comes with a dual-motor all-wheel-drive set up with 20-inch Uberturbine wheels along with a lower suspension and high-performance brakes, this is the car made to embrace all kinds of weather! Not to mention with the power of zooming from 0-96 kph in a flat 3.1 seconds this car ticks all the boxes on the safety and speeding parameters.
Whilst performance undoubtedly has high standards when it comes to the Tesla, the comfort and ambience are power-packed to make a strong case for themselves as well. The Tesla comes loaded to the brim with features such as using your smartphone itself as a key, a 15-inch screen that houses all the driver controls that be needed and the gorgeous all-glass roof which extends from the front all the way to back giving you an experience of zooming by with the glory of the sky! And with Indian’s having their main concern at the mileage of a car Tesla certainly doesn’t disappoint there as well.
With the base variant providing 423 Kms range full charge the top of the line version makes for a massive 568 Kms. A 15 min supercharge from a fast-charging source can make up for an easy 280 Kms. Tesla has been offering a warranty for the battery in its American models at 50,000 miles or 4 years whichever is lesser so yes it can be expected to provide a similar facility in the Indian markets as well. All in all these aspects of the Tesla Model 3 make it a very tempting buy for an automobile enthusiast! Yet there are certain drawbacks holding back this machine too, let’s take a closer look.
The pricing. With Tesla being imported initially the price band goes a lot higher and the Indian customer band which affords this high price segment is not that large in number. And those who do afford this car have a wide range of options to choose from with other luxury car makers Audi, Mercedes-Benz, etc entering into the field of electric cars, Tesla must brace itself for very stiff competition while entering into the Indian markets.
Also, the biggest drawback being the charging points for these electric cars. Tesla enjoys the facility of hyper charging, and these slots in India are actually pretty rare. As mentioned above a fast charging of 15 mins brings a range of 280 Kms, this high voltage current can’t be found everywhere. So paying nearly 60 Lakhs and yet bearing the worry of charging is not a headache the customers would like to bear.
India has a very weak infrastructure for the growth of EVs, presently India has around 500 charging stations only whereas the need stands at 2600. And this has in turn led to a lack of demand by the people for these EVs as they were even promised many subsidies but that has still been fairly uncertain as to how much it will be and how beneficial it will be for them.
The Government's Stand
The Indian government has been very vocal about announcing subsidies for the promotion of electric vehicles in the country to have the country entirely reliant on electric motors for travel. FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and EV) policy was introduced in the year 2015 with 900 crore rupees being allocated for the development of EV supportive infrastructure and the promotion of electric vehicle sales. In its second phase launched in 2019, a whopping 10,000 crore rupees has been dedicated for the FAME scheme hence showcasing how India wishes to make a very supportive environment for electric vehicles.
However, this is yet to come well into effect as India still lacks charging infrastructure largely, especially as compared to China which holds 60% of the world’s slow and fast charging spots combined. A similar idea was with Tesla as subsidies had been announced for them to get aid in manufacturing as well as sales of their cars yet, the latest word by the Indian government still makes the right details unclear. The centre has asked Tesla to start its manufacturing in India first then they shall decide on their subsidy rates. Tesla has in turn asked the government to provide at least some relief in the import duty taxes to bring the vehicles cheaper to the people and it remains to be seen how far the government supports Tesla’s initiative.
The carmaker who brings luxury, style, elegance and superb performance all packed with an eco-friendly electric motor does make for a strong contender entering into a country hosting the second largest population in the world. India’s purchasing capacity is growing step by step and will be looking to be owning an EV very soon, irrespective of its price band. And Tesla makes for among the most attractive options, especially with its highly appealing autonomous driving feature helping the Indians reach new levels of relaxed driving assists the reach for Tesla among the customers. Yes, the government has taken initiatives too by reducing the GST on electric vehicles from the usual 12% to 5% only and with more subsidies expected for this range of vehicles, We do expect good demand for Tesla as it marks its entry into India. Do let us know what you feel about Tesla coming to India in the comment section below!