Will the Tesla dream car stay that way for India?

What seemed like a dream car to buy locally for many is to stay that way as Tesla has put all its India plans on hold after failing to secure lower import taxes. The US carmaker has ditched efforts to scout for showroom locations and even reassigned some of its Indian team, according to a report by Reuters.  

Tesla has been in talks with the Indian government for over a year as the carmaker wanted to understand the demand by selling fully-imported cars at a lower tariff. The OEM wanted to import electric cars to India from its manufacturing hub in the US or China. However, the Indian government wanted Tesla to commit to making its cars in the country before lowering taxes.

The company was hoping to find some relaxations from the Union Budget announced on February 1, however, with no tax concessions in the cards, Tesla has put its India plans on hold. The electric carmaker scouted for land to open dealerships and service centres in cities such as Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai before putting its plans on hold.

The US carmaker wanted to take advantage of India’s nascent EV market as an early entrant. When Tesla announced its plans in 2016, Indian customers were excited and a few made the booking amount of $1000 (Rs 77,340). However, six years on, what was supposed to be their dream car for them remains a dream. Since the carmaker announced the Model 3’s plans, the company has sold over 300,000 Model 3s globally. For some Indian customers, the hassle is over, but for a few, the fight is still ongoing for a refund.

Tesla had earlier received approval from the Indian Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) for a total of seven models to be launched in India, the Model 3 being one of them.
Last year, the electric carmaker had appointed Prashanth R Menon as its Director for Indian operations and its top management team consisted of names such as Manuj Khurana, Samir Jain, Nishanth, Chitra Thomas, Prasanth Menon, Nitika Chabbra, Sandeep Pannu, Nithin George Thomas, Vaibhav Taneja, Venkat Sreeram, and David Feinstein.

Interestingly, Prashanth Menon, Vaibhav Taneja, and David Feinstein were associated with Tesla in the past in the company’s US operations, while the others were external hires from companies such as Volvo, BMW, Porsche, Ather, and Reliance. However, after the announcement of its senior management team, Tesla has been quiet.

Later, as per reports, Tesla had asked its India team to work on the larger Asia-Pacific markets as the Indian government’s stance on import duties didn’t attain the expected results. Reports cited that most of Tesla’s Indian employees moved to Dubai to look over the Middle-Eastern markets, while Manoj Khurana, who was to overlook Policies and the Business Development for Tesla in India moved to the US to take up a product role.

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