Owning and driving a Tesla in India may remain a distant dream.
Responding to a tweet from an Indian fan yesterday (Aug. 1), CEO Elon Musk said high import duties were preventing his company’s electric cars from making their debut in the country. India levies a 125% duty on imported vehicles to protect domestic automakers, even as the goods and services tax (GST) on electric vehicles was slashed from 12% to 5%, recently.
After Musk’s response, several Twitter users had suggestions for the entrepreneur. One was to open a micro factory in India, as opposed to Tesla’s gigafactory model that manufactures Lithium-ion batteries.
Another Twitter user felt that even if Tesla made it to India, there won’t be adequate power supply to charge the battery-powered car. Yet another user was optimistic that Tesla will make its debut by 2021, because India is an important market for electric vehicles.
Musk has often responded to Indian tweeple, sometimes shifting the goalpost several times a year. In early 2017, he had reacted to a tweet, hoping Tesla will hit Indian roads in the summer that year. This also made sense because several affluent Indians had signed up for the Tesla Model3 in 2016.
But in May 2017, Musk tweeted that his plans were marred by the government’s Make in India programme, which made it mandatory for 30% of parts to be locally sourced. This had prompted the government to issue a clarification on Twitter.
The same month, he also wrote that he “would love to be in India” but for the challenging government regulations, without specifying what the challenges were.
In July 2018, Musk had hinted that he might be visiting India “early next year” (2019), but that has not happened so far.