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Tesla will ‘start operations’ in India early next year, says the country’s transport minister

By Nadeem Sarwar December 28, 2020, 11:58 am

Tesla’s foray into the Indian market has so far been shrouded in rumors and speculations. However, it appears that the top brass at Tesla and the Indian government have been in talks and the EV maker might finally set foot on the Indian soil next year. Nitin Gadkari, India’s Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, said in an interaction with Indian Express that Tesla will “start operations” in India in early 2021.

Tesla will start by selling its electric cars in India and will handle the sales operations directly. The company will then explore manufacturing and production plans in the country based on how well Tesla’s cars are received in India. Until then, Tesla will import its cars in the country and will likely focus on its cheapest offering – the Model 3.

However, Tesla’s much-awaited India debut certainly won’t happen in January. Responding to a tweet that asked about Tesla’s potential arrival in India in January, the company’s CEO Elon Musk mentioned that a January debut is not on the cards. However, he did affirm that Tesla will ‘definitely’ enter the Indian market in 2021. Back in October this year, Musk tweeted that Tesla will enter the Indian market in 2021 for sure.

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Another report from Economic Times mentions that the Model 3 will start at approximately Rs. 55 lakh in India, which translates to roughly $74,800 based on the current conversion rate. The asking price is much higher for the Indian market compared to the US market, where the Model 3 currently starts at around $38,000.

That price markup is because Tesla will import all Model 3 units in India, which means a lot of taxes and import duties will be levied on it. While Tesla’s entry will give a huge push to the nascent EV industry in India, the company will have to tackle another huge challenge – building a robust charger infrastructure in the country prior to scaling up its operations in the country.

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