Tesla's EV push in India: A complete timeline

  • After a year of halt in talks about Tesla's launch in India, the EV maker has expressed interest in setting up a local assembly plant in the country.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, in New York, USA. (PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, in New York, USA.

The talk of Tesla coming to India is making headlines again after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the electric vehicle manufacturer's CEO Elon Musk in New York on Tuesday. During the interaction, the entrepreneur officially expressed his interest to invest in the country 'as soon as humanly possible'. He is expected to visit India next year to take the talks forward.

Musk has time and again expressed his interest in setting up a base in India but the country's high import duties have become a hindrance in Tesla's plans. The company was expected to begin its operations here in early 2021 and it even registered a company named Tesla India Motors and Energy in Bengaluru. However, the story of Tesla in India progressed no further.

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Now, once again, there seems to be some positive talk around Tesla's India EV push. Here is a complete timeline of Tesla's ‘When, Where and Why’ in the country:

2019

Musk expressed his interest in establishing a base in India during his interactions with Twitter users. Replying to a query on the social media platform, he said that he would love to be in India “this year. If not, definitely next!".

2020

In October, when another Twitterati asked Musk about the progress in his India plans, he replied, “Yea…next year for sure." Later in December, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said at an idea exchange programme that Tesla would start its operations in the country in early 2021. He added that the company will begin with import of cars and later set up a factory here.

2021 - January to March

Early in January, Tesla registered its India arm - Tesla India Motors and Energy - in Bengaluru. It also appointed three directors for the company. In February, Karnataka's then CM BS Yediyurappa announced that the OEM will open its first factory in his state while an R&D unit has been set up in Bengaluru. Gadkari, in March, said that the country is willing to offer incentives to the EV giant to reduce its production cost.

2021 April

Tesla zeroed in on Mumbai's Lower Parel to set up its first office in India and also open a retail store in the city. A key contender to host the OEM's office here became the Blackstone-Group owned One World Centre. The carmaker said it first aims to import and sell its model in metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Rest of 2021

In the second half of the year, Tesla began extensively lobbying the Indian government to reduce import duties on electric vehicles. It asked ministers and and government think-tank Niti Aayog to slash federal taxes on fully assembled cars to 40% for those priced below $40,000, thus making its EVs in India more affordable. Replying to popular Indian Youtuber Madan Gowri on Twitter, the company said that a 'factory in India is quite likely' but at the condition that its imported cars first succeed in the country. However, India ruled out any possibility of reducing taxes.

In December, Tesla received an approval to launch as many as seven of its electric models in the Indian market. However, no timeline was revealed for the launch of these models as the tax issue remained unresolved.

2022

Early in the year, ministers from Telangana, Maharashtra and West Bengal invited Musk to set up Tesla's factory in their respective states, to which, the entrepreneur replied saying, “Still working through a lot of challenges with the government". In a fresh blow to Tesla, Chairman of India's Cnetral Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, Vivek Johnri, in February, said that rules do not allow rejigging the tax structure. Tesla was thus suggested to import partially built models and assemble them locally to reduce cost. Hereafter, Tesla put its India EV plans on hold.

2023 May

After a year, a group of senior Tesla executives visited India and met PM Modi as well as other federal government officers with a fresh offer to establish a Giga factory in India. The agenda of the meeting was to discuss local souring of components for its models as well as batteries. Tesla said its India manufacturing hub will also be used to export models to Asia and other markets. It is expected to finalize location for a factory soon.

2023 June

PM Modi met Musk for the second time this year, this time during his ongoing visit to the US. The entrepreneur officially expressed his interest in investing in India. Both the parties discussed avenues where the EV maker could set up its factory in the country. Musk plans to visit India in 2024 to take the talks further.


First Published Date: 21 Jun 2023, 16:00 PM IST
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