NEW DELHI: India’s overtures to electric carmaker Tesla Inc. to set up an Indian factory have failed to deliver results. The California-based company has been cool to India’s offer of land near a major port to facilitate exports, and other incentives.
Transport minister Nitin Gadkari visited Tesla last year and proposed joint ventures between the carmaker and Indian automobile companies to manufacture pollution-free vehicles, especially in commercial and public transport. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Tesla’s California facility in 2015.
The National Democratic Alliance government has been trying to woo Tesla to make India a manufacturing hub for exports to south and Southeast Asian countries.
Gadkari said the government has tried its best to bring Tesla on board.
“I have told them we will give you land at the ports, but we haven’t got any indication yet,” he said.
Queries emailed to Tesla on 22 March remained unanswered.
Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said last month that the company is likely to introduce its products in India sometime in the summer of 2017.
Tesla’s much-anticipated Model 3, which is positioned as a mass-market, affordable car, will sell at $35,000 in the US. Some Indians have also booked it by paying an advance of $1,000.
India has ambitious plans for a mass shift to electric transport by 2030 so that all vehicles on Indian roads by then–both personal and commercial–are powered by electricity.
Experts say manufacturing in India is some time away for Tesla. “Just putting up a plant for exports doesn’t make sense. One needs to have a large domestic market as well,” said Abdul Majeed, partner and national auto practice leader, PricewaterhouseCoopers. “From a business standpoint, it makes sense for Tesla to address the product challenges, build up market share in the US and Europe. India is still some time away.”
The government wants to see 6 million electric and hybrid vehicles on the roads by 2020 under the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020 and Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME).
Currently, electric vehicle sales are low in India, rising 37.5% to 22,000 units in the year ended March 31, 2016 from 16,000 in 2014-15; only 2,000 of these were four-wheelers, according to the lobby group Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles.