Tesla has received approval from the government of India to manufacture or import four if its models in the country, potentially moving it one step closer to building a factory in India. The models have passed India’s roadworthiness tests, according to its ministry of road transport and highways.
“The tests ensure the vehicle matches the requirements of the Indian market in terms of emission and safety and road worthiness,” says the ministry’s website.
Tesla Club India said in a tweet that the models were probably variants of the Model 3 and Model Y.
Tesla had previously lobbied to lower tariffs for electric vehicles imported to India, which can as much as double the price of its more expensive models. This has met with mixed opinions in the automotive industry, with Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz in favor of reduced tariffs.
Elon Musk is also pursuing the possibility of manufacturing a Gigafactory in India, which the government seems to favor for the sake of increasing the number of manufacturing jobs in the country. However, Musk says that the building of a factory is dependent on Tesla’s ability to first test the market by importing vehicles that are more comparable in price to what they would cost if Tesla could manufacture them locally.
Musk has cited India’s efforts to develop more environmentally friendly energy sources as an incentive to move toward electric rather than gas-powered vehicles. Its vehicles could easily run on sufficient solar power, which, incidentally, can be provided by Tesla’s residential solar products like solar roofs and Powerwalls, as well as more industrial-strength products like the Megapack battery.
Musk has previously given Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a tour of the Gigafactory in California as part of his efforts to convince India.
Organizations in India such as the Automotive Component Manufacturers Association favors not only increased domestic automobile manufacturing within India, but also pushing for local sourcing of important electric vehicle components like batteries. Tesla often prefers to manufacture its own batteries at its Gigafactories or own stakes in the companies that produce them. This policy has led Cars.com to rank two Tesla models in its Top 3 for American-made vehicles.
In an October 2020 Tweet, Tesla Club India did ask if Musk planned to build a factory in India. At the time, Musk said, “Next year for sure.” However, that has since slipped, possibly due to bureaucratic red tape or the uncertainty involved in making a solid entrance into the Indian market. Less than one percent of vehicles sold in India are electric vehicles, which could as much be explained by India’s ongoing efforts to improve its residents’ access to its electric grid as the cost of importing an electric vehicle. Most Tesla vehicle owners prefer to charge their vehicles overnight while they are at home.