The much-awaited Tesla Model 3 was launched on March 31 and the bigwigs of India’s startup world are already kicked.
The compact four-door sedan, which can race from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than six seconds, is Tesla’s make-or-break vehicle. Many in the technology field believe Model 3 can “tip the world away from gasoline-driven vehicles, curb climate change, and profoundly shake up urban lifestyles everywhere.”
Following a glitzy ceremony in California, Tesla founder Elon Musk announced that he was ready to take orders from India and a few other emerging markets. Until now, the Palo Alto-based company hadn’t introduced its popular sedans, Model S and Model X, in Asia’s third largest economy.
Following the announcement, many of India’s tech startup biggies have lined up to get their hands on Model 3, priced at $35,000 in the US. On April 1, venture capitalist Mahesh Murthy and Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar uploaded the screen grabs of their booking confirmations on Twitter.
Tesla’s Indian fans, like at least 115,000 others from around the world, have forked out $1,000 for the booking.
However, Indian buyers have absolutely no idea how much the car will finally cost in India. In addition to the $35,000 (Rs23.2 lakh), they might have to spend a significant amount more on import duties. Aimed at helping domestic car makers, India levies around 125% duty on imported vehicles.
Tesla’s cheapest model so far could then cost more than Rs50 lakh in India, at current exchange rate. Other major electric cars in India cost between Rs5 lakh to Rs2 crore. Toyota Prius, a premium hybrid, carries a price tag of Rs40 lakh.
“I will pay if I have to,” Mahesh Murthy said about the duty. “Hope the government does away with duties for electric cars… This is also my small bit towards reducing the massive amount of pollution in Indian cities,” Murthy said. “And why should we not drive a first world car?”
Abdul Majeed, a partner at consultancy firm PwC, said, “I think Tesla is testing the Indian market right now.”
“By the time they start selling the vehicles in India, they expect the government to bring clarity and incentives for electric cars. The Indian market is also moving towards better environment-friendly cars. Even the prime minister had visited the Tesla factory when he visited the US.”
Last October, Tesla announced that it would set up a “gigafactory” to make lithium-ion batteries in India.
“In the next few years, Tesla is likely to build a huge brand in India,” Majeed added. As of now, there’s no word on Tesla’s dealership plans for the country.
GOQii founder Vishal Gondal and Amit Bhawani, a technology expert and founder of AndroidAdvices, have also booked the two-trunk sedan that can seat five adults.
However, some others used this opportunity to tweet about the bad driving conditions on Indian roads and the country’s abysmal public transport facilities.