Tesla's India debut imminent as four models are approved

A factory in India is 'quite likely' if the car maker can first test the waters by importing vehicles, says chief executive Elon Musk

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: The logo of car manufacturer Tesla is seen at a branch office in Bern, Switzerland October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo/File Photo
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Tesla is closer to making its official debut in India after it received approval to make or import four models in the South Asian nation.

The car maker has had its vehicles certified as being roadworthy in India, a posting on the website of the nation’s Ministry of Road Transport and Highways showed.

“The tests ensure the vehicle matches the requirements of the Indian market in terms of emission and safety and road worthiness,” the ministry said.

A Tesla fan club had earlier tweeted about the development, saying the cars were probably Model 3 and Model Y variants.

Gaining a foothold in the Indian car market will not be easy considering that electric vehicles account for only 1 per cent of the nation’s annual car sales and also because Tesla’s vehicles are very expensive.

Scant charging infrastructure and a lack of financing for companies eager to develop electric cars are other reasons why India is lagging behind in the electric shift.

The country’s high tax regime is another roadblock.

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk last month tweeted that import duties in India are among the highest in the world and the nation treats clean energy vehicles the same as vehicles that run on petrol, which is not consistent with its climate goals.

The billionaire has said a factory in India is “quite likely” if the California-based car maker can first test the waters by importing vehicles.

Tesla’s call for a tax cut on imported EVs has received a mixed reception. Volkswagen’s India unit and Hyundai Motor India have backed the move while Mahindra & Mahindra has called for a review of import tariffs, along with lower domestic levies.

Updated: August 31, 2021, 12:09 PM