Last week, a red Tesla Model 3 was spotted leaving the building of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) India. An Indian automotive journalist Chetan Bhutani posted this video to his Twitter account and it went viral.
According to Chetan, Tesla India officials met with the transportation ministry’s secretary in Dehli to discuss undisclosed matters between the parties. Later on, the federal transportation secretary went for a test drive with the Tesla officials on this Model 3 which appears to be a Standard Range variant of the car.
According to a report from The Economic Times of India, the person driving this Model 3 is MORTH secretary Shri Giridhar Aramane himself. The ministry has just approved all the four Model S, X, 3, and Y to be road legal in India a few weeks ago.
Tesla officially incorporated as a company in India at the start of 2021. After that rumors and news started to pour out of the country that the US-based automaker will start production as soon as this year. But Tesla seems to be still struggling to find a suitable state to start a local production plant.
For the last few months, Tesla has been asking the Indian government to lift off excessive import duties and taxes for its cars. But the talks for this exclusive discount for Tesla vehicle import have not been successful as of yet.
However, the government of India has exempted battery electric vehicles (BEVs) from paying registration and registration renewal fees. This notification from the central government was released in early August 2021.
Tesla’s efforts to get an import duty exemption is a sign that the automaker is not in a hurry to set up a Gigafactory in India. Rather than Tesla is interested in exporting cars from China to India and cater to the upper-middle-class and above strata of the Indian population.
Road conditions in most of this sub-continent region are not suitable for luxury cars like Tesla. Only some of the developed cities (mostly federal and state capitals) will be good enough for city driving in a Tesla. Still, the car’s suspension might need to be lifted in order to go through speed breakers and potholes that are widespread.
Due to dense urbanization and slum areas spread across India, Autopilot and FSD driving is going to be a nightmare for Tesla, it’s not like the developed world (USA & Europe). However, there is a good amount of potential for Tesla sales in the country, therefore the automaker is putting efforts into capturing the Indian market.
Tesla might also try to sell its home and grid-level power solutions combined with solar, Powerwall, and Powerpacks. There might be big potential in this sector because India has a lot of Sunlight across the country and need cost-effective energy on both the domestic and industrial levels.