You may see Tesla and India in the news together more frequently as Tesla continues to make waves into its newest market. It may seem new, but I remember writing about this possibility back in 2019. On Twitter, I’ve watched Nikhil Birbhan continuously push for Elon Musk to bring Tesla into India for two years. In 2019, he wrote an open letter to Elon Musk on InsideEVs where he expressed his desire to bring Tesla into India.
“India, unfortunately, has some of the world’s most polluted cities. Who likes pollution? Well, no one, not even us, except some EV haters.”
Birhban and several other Tesla advocates formed the Twitter account Tesla Club of India, and although it’s not an official Tesla Owners Club, it’s a movement that is focused on bringing Tesla and clean energy vehicles to one of the world’s most polluted countries.
Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister Toured Tesla’s Fremont Factory In 2019
In September 2019, Tesla received an invite to set up a factory in Tamil Nadu. This followed a tweet in March 2019 from Elon Musk that Tesla would come to India in 2019 or 2020. Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami visited the Tesla factory in Fremont, saw firsthand Tesla manufacturing and a deeper look at its vehicles, and learned about Tesla’s Supercharging network. He even gave a presentation about the facilities available for investing in his state’s automobile sector. Palaniswami also unveiled his state’s EV policy, which proposed 100% exemption on the electricity tax until December 31, 2025, for EV charging infrastructure and EV-related manufacturing industries in his state. You can read more about that here.
Elon Musk Says “Next Year For Sure”
In October 2020, Tesla Club of India shared some of their merch as a reply to Elon Musk. The merch had “India Wants Tesla” and “India ♥ Tesla” on it and noted that they were still hopeful from his previous response of “hopefully soon” for India’s Tesla entry. They asked for an update on the progress and Elon replied, “Next year for sure.”
Next year for sure
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 2, 2020
It Became Official
Earlier this month, India’s minister for road transport and highways confirmed that Tesla will start offering its cars to customers in India and will start by importing them. This week, Tesla Club India noticed and announced that Tesla registered a company in India — Tesla Motors India and Energy Private Limited was incorporated on January 8th, 2021.
BREAKING : @Tesla has been incorporated in Karnataka, India on January 8, 2021 as "TESLA INDIA MOTORS AND ENERGY PRIVATE LIMITED"🇮🇳.
Company also lists 3 Directors for India.
— Tesla Club India® #TeslaIndia🇮🇳 (@TeslaClubIN) January 12, 2021
Tesla’s registered office is in the southern city of Bengaluru and has three directors, including David Feinstein, who is a senior executive at Tesla. Although there is currently a lack of investment in manufacturing and infrastructure, such as charging stations, India plans to offer $4.6 billion in incentives to companies that are interested in setting up advanced battery manufacturing facilities.
Some Things Tesla May Want To Consider
Tesla Club of India has another co-founder, Arun Bhat, who shared a great idea on how Elon Musk and Tesla can move into India in three stages. Bhat, who is a Tesla shareholder in India and reserved his Tesla in 2016, explained how to win against the arguments that India and its market are too small for Tesla.
“It has been a breathtaking year for Tesla in spite of the troubled times the world has seen due to the pandemic. For me personally, it’s been amazing to see both Tesla and $TSLA grow. Tesla, the company, seems so much more mature now, especially with execution. It’s still agile wrt product development and manufacturing timelines,” he wrote.
He noted that it’s not expected that Tesla will sell in the hundreds of thousands with its current product portfolio, yet Tesla isn’t just about cars. “Tesla also has very ambitious goals for its energy generation, storage, and distribution products/services.”
He divides Tesla into two verticals: Automobiles and Energy. Then he proposes that Tesla enter India in three stages, starting with completely built-up imports of its Model 3. You can read more about Bhat’s idea here if you haven’t already.
I think it’s been wonderful to witness Tesla Club India’s push for Tesla to come into India. It’s amazing that one can interact with Elon Musk on Twitter this way. You don’t see Ford or other CEOs being this accessible to their customer base or their average shareholders, people who may not own large portfolios.
For someone such as Elon Musk to not only interact with his fans and customers on the level that he does, but to make a promise as he did for Tesla Club of India directly, and to fulfill that promise, is a beautiful example of customer service.