Elon Musk Says Tesla to Enter India 'Next Year'

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
elon musk says tesla to enter india 8216 next year

On Friday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the automaker was planning to enter the Indian market in 2021. “Next year for sure,” Musk said in a Twitter response that included a photograph of a T-shirt indicating that “India Wants/Loves Tesla.”

The original poster is probably correct in that assumption, too. While Indian vehicle prices average around the U.S. equivalent of $7,400, many models can be had for far cheaper. Vehicle ownership is also extremely limited, with only around 25 in 1,000 people able to afford one. But Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said the nation had a plan to ensure 15 percent of all new vehicle sales were electric by 2023.

That sounded insanely ambitious to our years when we first heard it in 2018, especially considering India’s original plan called for the same number by 2030 and seemed similarly unrealistic. Central planning rarely goes as mapped but it’s all the rage in most nations now that it can be tied to progressive looking environmental reforms.

But it’s what India wants and, with Tesla being the top dog in delivering desirable electric vehicles, there’s little reason to think the nation won’t attempt to cut it a favorable deal once there’s something on the table. At present, the country strategy plans limit the registrations of gasoline and diesel cars and incentivize the sale of electric vehicles — primarily those used for commercial or government-owned fleets.

While there was never much talk about subsiding privately owned EVs, Indian manufacturers are practically begging the government to help incentivize purchasing as the once-growing market has stagnated after the pandemic. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Elon Musk is famously “optimistic” which his predictions. In fact, there’s always the faint aroma of bullshit circulating throughout the automotive industry and it’s currently concentrated among the electric vehicle brands. Even though Tesla appears to be among the most trustworthy, and has proven it can deliver on the truly important promises, getting things going in India by next year would be quite the achievement. Besides, Musk already said he wanted to open shop in India both 2019 and 2020.

The company’s cheapest product also runs about $35,000 here in North America, which seems steep for everyone but the most affluent Indians. But it has developed more affordable versions of the Model 3 for the Chinese market (wow, thanks for the hookup) and claims improvements in its own battery technologies and manufacturing strategies will allow for a $25,000 electric car in just three years. Though that might not matter as Twitter users responding to Musk’s India comment said they’d happily sell their wives to gain access to Tesla products.

[Image: Jag_cz/Shutterstock]

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7 of 14 comments
  • Garak Garak on Oct 03, 2020

    With the global economy in a deep recession, any talk about expanding into new markets seems like wishful thinking.

    • See 4 previous
    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Oct 05, 2020

      @Luke42 Exactly. Many make the incorrect assumption that all of India is poor. China for example has a middle class larger than the entire population of the USA. Both India and China have around 4 times the population of the USA.

  • HotPotato HotPotato on Oct 03, 2020

    The article says the Indian government is interested in seeing electric vehicles in corporate and government fleets -- it doesn't sound like they foresee much adoption by private buyers at this time. This sounds a lot like "India wants the prestige of being part of the hottest techy industry, bolstered by attracting the most prestigious and credible player in that industry, so they're going to throw money at Tesla to make it happen." It does not sound like "India has a realistic and meaningful plan to reduce emissions, of which this is a key part." If that were the case, they'd be moving from coal to nuclear and solar, getting reliable electricity to everyone regardless of income, converting two-stroke scooters and tuk-tuks to electric power, etc. Benefits for Tesla are debatable but potentially numerous. They could harvest lots of incentives from that prestige-seeking government. They might not have much of a market within India right away, but they'd have an early-mover advantage as that slowly changes, since protectionist policy means that selling in India requires building in India...and they could export most production meanwhile. I suspect they'd be screwed by favoritism for Tata regardless once there's real money to be made domestically anyway, but who knows. They could set up an R&D center: India generates loads of English-speaking STEM graduates who work relatively cheap. However, I'm not sure cars is really where it's at for Tesla in India. Sunshine smiles on Tesla's solar panels. Spotty electricity delivery smiles on Tesla's battery backup banks. Big corporations and government agencies can see benefit in that, and pay money for it.

  • YellowDuck Thank goodness neither one had their feet up on the dash....
  • Zerofoo I learned a long time ago to never buy a heavily modified vehicle. Far too many people lack the necessary mechanical engineering skills to know when they've screwed something up.
  • Zerofoo I was part of this industry during my college years. We built many, many cars for "street pharmacists" that sounded like this.Excessive car audio systems are kind of like 800 HP engines. Completely unnecessary, but a hell of a lot of fun.
  • DedBull In it to win it!
  • Wolfwagen IIRC I remember reading somewhere that the Porsche Cayenne was supposed to have a small gasoline-powered block heater. There was a loop in the cooling system that ran to the heater and when the temperature got to a certain point (0°C)the vehicle's control unit would activate the heater. I dont know if this was a concept or if it ever made it into production.