Motors is planning to set up a factory in India to cater to the local demand for electric cars, at a time when the Modi government
has launched an ambitious plan of moving to 100 per cent electric mobility by 2030.
The US carmaker is looking to enter India as a retailer and is in talks with the government
for waiver of restrictions on imports of its high-end electric cars
until its factory is built here.
“In discussions with the government
of India requesting temporary relief on import penalties/restrictions until a local factory is built,” Elon Musk, chief executive officer, Tesla, said in a tweet on Thursday. He did not specify a time frame for the India venture.
The import penalties or restrictions that Musk referred to are most likely the norms for multinationals to set up single-brand retail in India, which mandate them to source at least 30 per cent locally.
Unlike traditional automakers, Tesla
sells and services its vehicles on its own rather than through local dealers.
has been trying to get India to waive its local sourcing
norms temporarily. While in the past the government
has indicated that it might make exceptions for high-tech products (presumably iPhones and Tesla
cars), there has been no clarity yet.
Because of this, India’s current laws would mandate Tesla
to set up a factory and begin sourcing components locally before even selling its first car here.
Last month, Musk had flagged this very issue while answering a query on Twitter about when the company would launch its business in India.
always sells directly, but apart from asking for permission to sell directly, they might be looking for some concessions on the vehicles or the factory they want to set up. All these companies
come looking for special packages,” said Abdul Majeed, partner, assurance at PwC India.
India does not restrict import of automobiles by wholesalers, but it levies a huge customs duty of 119 per cent on a CBU (completely built unit). This was done to force global luxury automakers, which were eager to tap India’s growing base of rich individuals, to set up local manufacturing and assembly units.
Over the past couple of years, this policy has largely worked, with brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, JLR and Volvo having units in India.
Experts believe that the government
should do the same even for electric vehicles as it will help boost the local industry.