Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Friday, October 8, that Electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Tesla Motors has been asked not to sell cars in the country that have been manufactured in China. He instead proposed to the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, to start manufacturing Tesla cars in India.
In his address at the Game Changers: Climate Action session at the India Today Conclave 2021, he disclosed a conversation that occurred between him and Elon Musk, stating that he had asked the CEO to start the manufacturing process locally and export assembled cars from India. He also suggested that Tesla cars in India should be ‘affordable’ and thus priced at Rs.35 lakhs.
He affirmed that as part of the Atmanirbhar programme launched by the Modi government, the local production of batteries to power the vehicles is rising and Indian manufacturers shall be able to commence their export in the near future. Deeming this an added advantage for Tesla Motors, he stated that the Modi government is ready to extend all its support to the company to set up local manufacturing units in the country soon.
Gadkari’s comments alluded to the mutual interest between the Modi government and Elon Musk in having Tesla debut into the world’s fifth-largest automobile market, which has a reputation of being price sensitive.
Tesla has been gunning to kickstart the process of selling its electric vehicles in India but has been discouraged due to high import duties charged in the country. In order to secure the domestic manufacturers, the Indian government charges 100 per cent import duty on cars if their CIF (cost, insurance and freight) value exceeds $40,000 or has a petrol or diesel engine with a displacement of greater than 3,000 CC and 2,500 CC, respectively.
The ongoing attempts by Tesla to lobby with the Indian government to grant tax concessions and reduce the import duties levied on EV have not given fruitful results so far. Last month, the heavy industries minister had replied to Tesla’s attempt at negotiating by stating that any tax concessions can be considered once Tesla begins the manufacturing process of its cars in India.