Tesla Finally Eyeing India as Model 3 and Model Y Testing Spotted

Although Tesla has made a major dent in the auto industry in the United States, the EV maker and CEO Elon Musk have yet to make big-time moves in India. Musk had discussed taking Tesla to India before — for two years, in fact — but he had not yet taken significant steps to do so.

Whenever he discusses the subject, Musk cites high importing taxes as the main reason for the delay. However, Teslas were spotted in India recently, leading some observers to believe the EVs could become more widely available in the country soon. 

Elon Musk’s comments on working with India

A Tesla Model Y parked at the construction site of the Tesla Gigafactory near Berlin, Germany
A Model Y outside the Tesla Gigafactory near Berlin, Germany| Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

Madan Gowri, a YouTuber in India, tweeted at Musk this past July asking him to launch Tesla in India. Musk replied with a series of tweets explaining why he hasn’t done so yet.

“We want to do so, but import duties are the highest in the world by far of any large country!” Musk stated. “Moreover, clean energy vehicles are treated the same as diesel or petrol, which does not seem entirely consistent with the climate goals of India.”

Musk followed up with another tweet: “But we are hopeful that there will be at least temporary tariff relief for electric vehicles. That would be much appreciated.”

Musk raised the issue on Twitter in 2019 by saying, “I’m told import duties are extremely high (up to 100%), even for electric cars. This would make our cars unaffordable.”

Currently, India’s 100% import duty applies to vehicles valued at more than $40,000, including freight, insurance, and base cost. Imported vehicles that cost less than $40,000 have an import duty of 60% instead. 

Despite this, Tesla models have been spotted in India

In January, Tesla filed the paperwork to register its Indian subsidiary in Bengaluru, the technology hub of the country. According to Quartz India, this branch of the company is officially incorporated as Tesla India Motors and Energy. It has also been reported that Tesla is looking to hire executives in India, another excellent sign for Indian citizens who want to get their hands on a Tesla EV. 

Even more tangible evidence of Tesla’s transition toward India is that test models of Tesla Model 3s and Model Ys have been spotted driving around India over the past several weeks, Money Control reports. At first, it wasn’t clear which models were on Indian roads, as the test models were camouflaged while being tested to gain homologation certification.

Homologation certification is a process required by the Indian government that ensures vehicles adhere to the country’s safety and functionality standards before selling to citizens. So far, Tesla Indian Motors and Energy has received approvals for all four of its vehicles, including the Model S and Model X. Does this mean there is an official launch date for Tesla in India?

How long will it be until Tesla launches in India?

Although Tesla has not announced an official launch date in India, there is speculation that Indian citizens could begin purchasing Tesla Model 3 EVs as soon as this December. Business Standard reports that the Model 3’s expected price upon launch is Rs 60 lakh — roughly $82,000. 

So far, there are no reports about when the Model Y will launch in India, and the launch dates of the Model S and Model X are likely even farther away. Indian residents have expressed interest in Musk’s EV maker for years, and this might be the year their Tesla-themed dreams finally come true. 

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