Tesla ‘silent’; yet to communicate its India plans: Official


PTI, May 18, 2024, 9:15 AM IST

New Delhi: US electric carmaker Tesla is ‘silent’ and yet to communicate its India plans to the government under the new EV policy, an official said on Friday.

American tech billionaire Elon Musk, who was scheduled to visit India on April 21-22, had postponed his visit at the last moment citing ‘very heavy Tesla obligations’.

Musk, CEO of electric carmaker Tesla, was also slated to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the visit.

“They (Tesla) are just silent.. the (EV) policy was always meant for everybody,” the official said when asked whether the company has communicated its plans to the government.

The commercial decisions are announced by the companies, the official added.

An e-mail query sent to Tesla remained unanswered.

Earlier in April, he confirmed his visit to India in a post on X saying, “Looking forward to meeting with Prime Minister @NarendraModi in India”.

In June last year, Musk met with Modi during the latter’s US visit and stated that he planned to visit India in 2024 while expressing confidence that Tesla would enter the Indian market soon.

His proposed visit had raised expectations that he would announce plans for Tesla to set up shop in the country, along with his satcom venture Starlink.

It was expected that Musk would announce plans for Tesla to set up its manufacturing unit in India and investments for the same that could be billions of dollars and the way forward for selling Tesla electric cars in India at the earliest.

Not just electric cars, he is also eyeing the Indian market for his satellite internet business Starlink, for which regulatory approvals are awaited.

Musk had in the past called for import duty reduction in India to be able to sell Tesla cars in the country.

His planned visit to India came weeks after the government announced a new electric vehicle policy under which import duty concessions will be given to companies setting up manufacturing units in the country with a minimum investment of USD 500 million, a move aimed at attracting major global players like Tesla.

Last month, an advisor representing Tesla—The Asia Group (TAG) attended the first stakeholders’ meeting on the new EV policy, along with those from Vietnam’s EV maker VinFast and all the major manufacturers in India, including Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Tata, Mahindra, Kia, Skoda Auto Volkswagen India, Renault, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi.

The stakeholder consultation meeting was aimed at seeking inputs for the guidelines to be framed for the new EV manufacturing policy.

As per the policy, the companies that would set up manufacturing facilities for EV passenger cars will be allowed to import a limited number of cars at lower customs/import duty of 15 per cent on vehicles costing USD 35,000 and above for five years from the date of issuance of the approval letter by the government.

At present, cars imported as completely built units (CBUs) attract customs duty ranging from 70 per cent to 100 per cent, depending on the engine size and cost, insurance and freight (CIF) value.

CBUs whose CIF value is more than USD 40,000 attract a 100 per cent import duty (for petrol engines size more than 3000 cc and diesel engines of size more than 2500 cc). Whereas those with CIF value under USD 40,000 attract 70 per cent duty (for petrol engine sizes under 3000 cc and diesel engine sizes under 2500 cc).

The new EV policy seeks to promote India as a manufacturing destination for EVs and attract investment from reputed global manufacturers. Last year, Tesla approached the Indian government seeking duty cuts to import its vehicles in India.

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