Elon Musk, the founder and chief executive officer of the Cupertino-based Tesla, said on Twitter last year that the company plans to enter India “for sure” in 2021.Tesla India has named Vaibhav Taneja, Venkatrangam Sreeram and David Jon Feinstein as its three directors.
“We have been interacting with Tesla for the last few months, and it is happy news that it has decided to incorporate its company here. We have impressed upon them that Bengaluru is not only the technology capital but also the aerospace and space capital. For any kind of technology collaboration, it has the right kind of talent pool,” said Gaurav Gupta, state principal secretary for commerce and industries.
“How they want to enter and take it forward is left to their judgement. Hopefully, this will lead to a sales office, research and further developments as necessary,” he added.
The state had earlier said Tesla would open a research and development (R&D) centre in Bengaluru and that it had offered space for any other plans the company may have, including a factory.
Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said in December that Tesla will begin its operations in India early this year with sales, and later venture into assembly and manufacturing of electric cars.
Tesla did not respond to an email seeking more information.
Tesla’s expected entry comes at a time when the Union and state governments are encouraging higher adoption of green vehicle technologies to help reduce air pollution.
Mobility startups such as Ola, Uber, Bounce and Vogo have set targets to include more electric vehicles (EVs) in their fleets. Ola is also entering EV manufacturing with a two-million two-wheeler EV plant coming up in Tamil Nadu for ₹2,400 crore. Other large automakers such as Mahindra, Hero and Hyundai, and startups like Ather Energy are pressing ahead with plans to capture a bigger share of India’s nascent EV market that still accounts for less than 1% of the entire automobile market in the country.
Musk, who recently became the wealthiest individual in the world overtaking Amazon Inc. founder Jeff Bezos, also enjoys a cult-figure like status in India as he does abroad, adding to the growing demand for Tesla and its products.
“Tesla is considered one of the most aspirational brands across the globe, and the formation of its subsidiary is quite significant for India’s economy and its nascent EV industry. This can be an inflection point for electric mobility in India and might convince many prospective customers to consider buying an EV in the future. Also, an investment from Tesla might convince other leading vehicle manufacturers and their component suppliers to invest in India for development of EV and related parts,” said Puneet Gupta, director, IHS Markit, a data analytics firm.