Union ministers kept telling Tesla CEO Elon Musk that he could come to India and make electric cars there. Musk, however, seemed more interested in his purchase of Twitter than in what the Indian government has been saying over and over for months.
Musk has shown no interest in responding to several requests from the Indian government, most notably from Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari. This comes after reports that the team he hired in India last year has relocated to focus on the Middle East and the larger Asia-Pacific markets.
Nishant Prasad, who is responsible for establishing Tesla’s supercharger network in India, has changed his LinkedIn profile to say he is the Charging Operations Lead for the Asia-Pacific region. Manoj Khurana was the first person to hire Tesla India. He was responsible for government policy and business development. Last month he moved to California to take on a product role.
Also, India’s electric vehicle market is set to grow in the next two years and there will be 3 million electric vehicles on the road, according to Nitin Gadkari.
Musk, who is in charge of Tesla, appears to be taking this action as a way to get back at the Indian government for failing to comply with Musk’s request to lower the import tax on Tesla cars.
Several Indian leaders, such as KT Rama Rao, Industry Minister for Telangana, and Jayant Patil, Maharashtra Minister and NCP State President, have repeatedly asked Musk to bring Tesla to India, but to no avail.
Gadkari said at the Raisina Dialogue 2022 last month that if Musk wants to make Tesla cars in China and sell them here, “it can’t be a good deal for India.”
“We want him to come to India and make things there. Nothing is wrong. Because the suppliers are there and we have all kinds of technology, Musk can cut costs. India is a big market and a good place to sell goods to other countries.” Musk can send Tesla cars from India to other countries,” he told the crowd.
The minister said earlier this month, when asked again what he thought of Tesla’s car making in India, that if Musk came to the country and made Tesla cars there, it would help the electric car company too.
Gadkari had said in February that Tesla cars cannot be put on the road until Musk starts making them in India. When asked about Tesla’s request to lower customs duties on electric cars, Gadkari said the country cannot please one car company.
Musk had said on Twitter that the government was making it difficult for him to sell his products in India. He posted that Tesla is not yet in India due to “challenges with the government.”
At present, India taxes 100% imported cars costing more than $40,000 (Rs 30 lakh), including insurance and postage. Cars costing less than $40,000 are taxed at 60%.
With a price tag of $40,000 (over Rs 30 lakh), the Tesla Model 3 may remain an affordable model in the US, but with import duties, the price in India, which is expected to be around Rs 60 lakh, would make it unaffordable.
Musk says he wants to sell cars in India, but the country’s tariffs on electric vehicles are “by far the highest in the world.”
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