The country’s transport minister, Nitin Gadkari, says that Elon Musk’s electric car company will start selling vehicles there next year.After establishing sales centers, Tesla will then “look into setting up … manufacturing here,” Gadkari said in a statement to CNN Business.
“The company is expected to start its operations, first with sales for its vehicles in India from next year, and considering the demand, it would also look into setting up a manufacturing field here,” Gadkari told TOI.
The minister has held a few rounds of talks with top executives of Tesla and the Elon Musk-headed company was also in discussions with some states to start sales of its vehicles, sources said.
The minister’s comment came after recent reports of the US clean energy automobile major having exploratory discussions with the Karnataka government officials over the possibility of opening a research facility in Bengaluru. Earlier, the Maharashtra government had sought to woo the company to invest in the state.
Tesla and the minister’s office could not be immediately reached by Reuters for comment.
Though keen to reduce its oil dependence and cut down on pollution, India’s efforts to promote electric vehicles have been so far stymied by a lack of investment in manufacturing and infrastructure such as charging stations.
The first model to be launched will be Model 3, the cheapest among Tesla vehicles, with prices starting at over $74,739 (5.5million Indian rupees), according to a report in the EconomicTimes on Saturday.
The delay may have been well timed. Car sales in India dropped new safety and emission regulations drove up prices, and troubles among India’s consumer finance providers hit lending. Other American companies have been retreating from India over the last few years.
Last year, Hyundai launched its first electric vehicle for the Indian market, the Hyundai Kona Electric. The South Korean company at the time praised India for “ushering into a new era with clean and connected mobility.”Hyundai was at the time the second company to sell electric cars in India, after local rival Mahindra. Since then, Tata and MG Motor have debuted their own vehicles in the country, as has Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz.
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