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For two years now, Elon Musk has cited one reason for the delay in Tesla’s India launch

REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
Will his wishes be fulfilled?
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Tesla wants India—but with caveats.

On July 24, the American electric vehicle firm’s CEO Elon Musk—once again—suggested that Tesla wants to launch its cars in India but is holding back because of the country’s import duties, which are “highest in the world by far for any large country.” Musk was responding to a tweet by a Youtuber who requested him to launch Tesla ASAP in India.

Musk further added that even as EVs are treated the same as diesel or petrol vehicles in India, he is still hopeful that there could be a “temporary tariff relief” by the Narendra Modi government. “That would be much appreciated,” he said.

This isn’t the first time Musk has cited Indian import duties as a reason for the delay in bringing Tesla to the country. In 2019, he had pointed to the same issue and said that it would make the company’s cars “unaffordable” for Indians.

At present, India imposes a 100% import duty on fully imported cars with the cost, insurance, and freight value of more than $40,000 (Rs29.7 lakh). Imported cars that cost less than $40,000 attract an import duty of 60%.

Despite this hurdle, Musk’s firm has been making moves to dig its heels in India.

When will Tesla come to India?

In January, Tesla registered its Indian subsidiary in the country’s tech capital, Bengaluru. As per media reports, the company is also hiring executives in India. Reports of Tesla opening up its own manufacturing unit in India are also gaining chorus. In fact, India’s transport minister Nitin Gadkari went on record saying that Tesla will start sales in the country this year, and later look at manufacturing its cars locally.

Reacting to manufacturing plans in a separate tweet on July 24, Musk said that it’ll only be possible if the cars get a “good response” from the consumers in India.

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