Ever since I’ve known him online, Nikhil Birbhan, a student at Delhi University, has been advocating for Tesla to open a factory in India. “India, unfortunately, has some of the world’s most polluted cities,” he shared in an open letter he penned to Elon Musk back in early 2019. In the detailed letter, Nikhil laid out the benefits that Tesla could bring to India if Tesla was to enter the market there.
Next year for sure
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 2, 2020
Nikhil, who runs Tesla Club India, which is an online community not officially tied to Tesla, got a bit creative. By creating merchandise with sayings such as “India wants Tesla” and “India ❤️ Tesla,” he lovingly reminded Elon Musk that India is patiently waiting for Tesla.
Reuters noted that Tesla’s entry into India would come at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is putting all of his focus into encouraging citizens to make the switch from gasoline vehicles to electric vehicles. The country’s auto industry, which was still recovering from a slowdown in demand in 2019, was hit pretty hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Automakers are hoping for government support to push sales there.
Business Insider noted that back in 2017, India’s government said that it wants all of its vehicles on the road to be electric by 2030. That’s probably around 250 million vehicles. Unfortunately, this target was lowered from all to just 30% in 2018 thanks to criticism of how realistic that was. India’s Minister of Road Transport and Highways upset a lot of automakers when he told them that he would require all of India’s cars to be electric by 2030. “I am going to do this, whether you like it or not,” Nitin Gadkari said. “And I am not going to ask you. I will bulldoze it.”
Thanks Elon , we are holding you to your word. As you see below, it's on a shirt now , so it's binding. pic.twitter.com/ujcTxwp8we
— Tesla Club India® (@TeslaClubIN) October 2, 2020
Gadkari’s words may seem harsh, but they are ripping off the bandaid in order to clean the festering wound of pollution underneath. While speaking at a webinar back in June, Gadkari also put some salve on that wound. “I am confident that in five years Indian will become the #1 hub for manufacturing electric buses, cars, and two-wheelers,” he said. Gadkari’s passion stems from a sense of urgency. In 2019, The World Economic Forum noted that India was the world’s third biggest producer of CO2 emissions. First is China and second is the US.
Earlier this year, EcoWatch reported that India is home to 21 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities. However, the pandemic-caused 21-day lockdown cleared the air to the point that residents in Jalandhar were able to see the Himalayas off in the distance for the first time in 3o years.
Sam Baily of Mew Burn Ellis, an intellectual property firm, shared his thoughts on Tesla in India with Business Insider. “It is interesting and highly ambitious, to see that (Musk) is hoping to make inroads in a country which has a reputation for huge levels of air pollution, particularly in the big cities. It is also evidence of his belief that Tesla is now getting closer to a price point that is attractive and affordable for people in all economies and no longer the preserve of the very rich early adopters of new technology.”
Woke up this morning to the best @elonmusk tweet in a looooong while. Big happy congrats to @NCBirbhan @TeslaClubIN I’M VERY HAPPY FOR YOU. @Tesla coming your way my friend. pic.twitter.com/nImu9LaqjM
— TeslaChillMode #HellaTeslas (@TeslaChillMode) October 2, 2020
If Tesla enters the Indian market in 2021 and becomes a top seller there, as it has with many countries around the world, when 2030 comes around, perhaps that goal of 250 million electric cars being the only cars in India may not seem impossible — especially if Tesla produces the $25,000 EV, which doesn’t have a name yet. (Model Too is a cute option, especially with the rest of the lineup being S-3-X-Y.)