Tesla’s manufacturing efforts in India could launch as soon as 2022, according to Soumen Mandal, an analyst at Counterpoint Research. Tesla has been targeting an entrance into the Indian automotive market for several years, with 2021 seeing the most progress for the electric automaker to finally begin building its cars in the country.
Mandal sees India as perhaps one of the largest beneficiaries of the ongoing EV movement globally, and the analyst believes Tesla is well aware of this fact. If this is the case, Tesla will likely want to make their mark early and often, as it could prove to be a deciding factor in whether the company tastes success in India, a risky region for the company’s growing initiative to transition the Earth to sustainable energy.
“None of the big automakers wants to leave out the opportunity to acquire a share in the India market,” Mandal said, according to a new report from Economic Times of India. “Tesla is not an exception in this case. The cheap availability of resources and lower labor cost will allow Tesla as well as other automakers to earn a higher profit if they set up a local manufacturing or assembly plant.”
Tesla has sparred with government officials in India for several months, playing a game of chess to see which entity will cater to the other’s wishes. At first, Tesla planned to build a manufacturing facility in the region. However, CEO Elon Musk reasonably backtracked as he was not yet convinced that Tesla would be a good fit in India.
Instead, Musk wanted to test the demand for Tesla’s EVs in India by utilizing an import method. As Tesla has an already active production facility in Shanghai and another in Germany that will begin production imminently, there are plenty of routes for Tesla’s EVs to make it to India. The issue remains, however: import duties are doubling the price of vehicles, and Tesla won’t be able to accurately test demand in India if these taxes are not reduced.
India’s currently active political administration is undoubtedly keen on keeping manufacturing efforts at home. This means that Tesla’s requests for import duty reductions were likely scoffed at by the country’s higher-ups, who had no intentions of continuing any talks of catering to Tesla’s wishes. However, government officials once again derailed Tesla’s attempts to make headway with these requests, as officials stated India couldn’t make “company-specific incentives” a reality. Instead, Tesla would have to launch a manufacturing plant in India, which put the possibility of “Tesla India” on ice for the time being.
This wish was eventually reconsidered by some government officials. Duties do have the possibility of being pulled back. One Indian official said, “We haven’t firmed up the reduction in duties yet, but there are discussions that are ongoing.”
Mandal believes that India will eventually work something out with Tesla as the opportunity may be too good to pass up. “Hence, the desire to earn more profit as well as the wish to acquire a market share in one of the to-be largest auto markets is bringing Tesla to India,” the analyst said. Tesla has been the only automaker to basically avoid any production stoppages due to the global semiconductor shortage, and India must know that. “All most every automaker is currently suffering from the ongoing semiconductor shortage. While most of the automakers like Stellantis, Volkswagen, Toyota, BMW, Ford and others have cut production severely due to the ongoing chip crisis, Tesla has not been affected significantly,” Mandal said.