NEW DELHI: Road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said on Monday that the US electric vehicle major Tesla will start operations in India early next year.
“The company is expected to start its operations, first with sales for its vehicles in India from next year, and considering the demand, it would also look into setting up a manufacturing facility here,” Gadkari told TOI.
The minister has held a few rounds of talks with top executives of Tesla and the Elon Musk-headed company was also in discussions with some states to start sales of its vehicles, sources said.
The minister’s comment came after recent reports of the US clean energy automobile major having exploratory discussions with the Karnataka government officials over the possibility of opening a research facility in Bengaluru. Earlier, the Maharashtra government had sought to woo the company to invest in the state.
Replying to a tweet on Sunday, Musk had said that Tesla planned to enter India “this year”, but not in January, in what was a reference to a proposed foray sometime in 2021. Last October too, he had tweeted about plans to enter India next year.
There were also reports that Tesla would open pre-bookings for the Model 3 and then start deliveries for the car by June. The Tesla Model 3 will come to India as a completely built unit and it is likely that the company will not sell its cars via dealerships. The car has a range of up to 500km and a top speed of 162kmph.
In June 2018, Musk had said his company was in discussions with the Indian government, requesting temporary relief on import penalties or restrictions until a local factory is built.
Gadkari has been pushing for electric vehicles although his ministry’s plan is at variance with the road map charted out by NITI Aayog. Speaking at an event recently, Gadkari had also said that Mercedes-Benz was keen to launch its electric truck in India soon. “I strongly believe that India will become the number one hub of vehicle manufacturing in the world and will take lead in producing electric vehicles,” he had said.