Tesla in India – Reality, Pre-Booking, and Other Challenges

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, via his reply to one of his Twitter followers just mentioned that Tesla cars are coming to India soon. According to the tweet from the Billionaire Innovator, Tesla plans to set foot in India in late 2019 or early 2020. Elon’s tweet was in response to a question from Mr. Shubham Rathi who asked on when Tesla would make their way into India.

tesla in india

Musk’s tweet on Tesla in India | Source – Twitter

Musk’s reply asserted that Tesla might make it to India in 2019. However, if they are unable to do so this year, putting Tesla cars in India is one of their definite agendas in 2020. Now, the question that a lot of people are asking is how do we actually pre-book a Tesla in India.

The answer to the same is that, as of now, there is no way to pre-book Tesla cars in India. This is so because there has been no official confirmation on the entry of Tesla into India. If you go into the booking page of Model 3, you can see that India is still not listed in the list of countries. China is the only country in the Asia-Pacific region to where you can order your Model 3. The same applies to Model X. Model Y, and Model S. It is also quite surprising as to why they haven’t even included Singapore in the list.


List of Countries as seen in Tesla’s order page | Source – Tesla

This is not the first time that Tesla announced its arrival to India. Back in April 2016, Elon Musk had tweeted the possible arrival of Tesla into India. Back then the announcement was not specific to India alone. Musk’s tweet included other countries such as South Africa, New Zealand, Ireland, and SK.

Yet another interesting phenomenon that happened then was that customers could actually pre-order Tesla to India online. According to a report published in the Economic Times, interested buyers then needed to pay an advance amount of 1000 dollars for booking the car. Some of the most prominent businessmen had actually pre-booked Tesla at that time. One among them was the Founder and CEO of Paytm Vishal Sekhar Sharma. Sharma had also shared the news via one of his Twitter feeds.

Back in 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited Tesla’s Giga Factory in California. In one of the interviews, Elon Musk had mentioned that most of the discussions with the PM were around Electricity Generation in India – on how Electricity Generation could follow a similar skip-over trend to that of landlines and how rural areas could be powered by Tesla’s battery packs and Solar panels. But it is also highly likely that the discussions would have also extended on the need and possibilities of having Electrically Powered vehicles in India.

Unlike the past announcements on Tesla’s arrival into India, this time could be a lot more realistic, ie there is a very high probability that Tesla might actually deploy its cars in India. There are many reasons to support this claim.

Tesla has been showing interest in deploying its cars all over the world rather than concentrating on the United States alone. An example to substantiate this claim is the case where Tesla actually opened up one of its Giga Factories in China. Prior to that, Elon Musk had also announced on increasing the number of Tesla Dealerships in South Africa in 2019.

tesla model Y

A Tesla Model Y | Source – Tesla

There are two major factors that could drive the deployment of Tesla’s cars in India. India offers vast potential for increased Tesla sales. India is the fourth largest Automobile Market in the world. The fact that India is also an outsourcing hub for a lot of companies in the fortune 500 space provides increased job opportunities and thereby increases the per capita income. Hence, a major chunk of the Indian population is willing to invest considerable funds on automobiles.

Secondly, deploying their cars in India brings Tesla a lot closer to Elon Musk’s actual vision – to promote sustainable transportation methods for saving the environment by deploying their Green Technology in a country that accounts to roughly 1/7 of the world’s population. If Tesla succeeds in taking root in India, they are actually influencing a considerable part of the world’s population in adopting sustainable transport and thereby making a huge impact on the Electric Vehicle Revolution in India.

tesla model 3

A Tesla Model 3 | Source – Wiki

Though Tesla’s arrival could be highly impactful, it may not be that easy. Import Duties and Supercharging stations could pose major challenges in achieving the same. If Tesla does not have any plans to open a Giga Factory in India and is planning to import their cars from USA/China, the import duties associated with the same could nearly double the rate of their cars being sold in India. This means that the base version of the Model Y ($ 39,000) would now cost more than 50 lakh rupees in India.

Tesla’s Self-Driving Technology, the Autopilot would also face a lot of challenges on the Indian roads – given the traffic density and randomness in India.

Despite these potential challenges, we can definitely stick to the idea that Tesla is indeed coming to India, and when that happens it is going to be a major Kickstarter for the EV Vehicle Revolution and thereby Sustainable Transportation in India.