On Monday, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said American electric car major Tesla is set to start its operations in India next year and look at setting up a manufacturing unit based on demand. The Road, Transport and Highways Minister have been pushing for green fuel and electric vehicles to cut India’s huge Rs 8 lakh crore crude imports. In October, Tesla Inc co-founder and chief executive Elon Musk said the company would enter the Indian market in 2021.

“American auto major Tesla will have its distribution facility (sale centres) for its cars in India from next year. Considering the demand, it would look into setting up manufacturing here. India has the potential to become the largest EV (electric vehicle) producer in the world in the next five years,” Gadkari told PTI.

A recent report also suggested that Tesla may open bookings in the coming months, with deliveries supposedly following through in June-July 2021.

With India’s pledge to reduce carbon emissions by 30-35 per cent by 2030 and efforts to cut down on Rs 8 lakh crore-worth crude oil imports, the focus is also on green fuel and electricity as EVs, the minister said.

Stressing that India is power surplus, Gadkari said the benefits of e-mobility solutions are immense here.

“The Centre intends to have an electric vehicle sales penetration of 30 per cent for private cars, 70 per cent for commercial cars, 40 per cent for buses, and 80 per cent for two and three-wheelers by 2030 by providing various incentives, which are likely to drive the growth of EV market in India,” Gadkari said.

The government is also planning to set up at least one e-charging kiosk at each of the around 69,000 petrol pumps across the country to accelerate the uptake of EVs, he added.

Gadkari said it was an opportune time to harbour the ambition to become number one in EVs as raw material and skilled workforce were available in India, making it a “win-win situation”.

In October this year, Musk had said “next year for sure,” while replying to a query on Tesla’s India plans on Twitter.

Earlier, the Maharashtra government had said it is looking for potential investment from Tesla in the state and has held discussions with the company.

Maharashtra is already home to a host of domestic and foreign automobile manufacturers with Chakan Industrial belt near Pune a major automobile hub.

In India, Tesla is expected to continue to follow its unique direct sales model, just like it does in the USA. The company controls its own sales channels, selling its cars via showrooms and centres it owns itself. Tesla’s own employees even operate these centres, the idea being the traditional pressures of a dealer-buyer relationship are dealt away with.

The EV maker has even changed how you might service a car, most glitches and updates are fixed over-the-air while 80 per cent of its customer’s service requests are handled by a team of model service technicians, again employed full-time by the company. For issues that can’t be solved at home, the company has a relatively slim network of self-owned service centres where owners can bring their car in for repairs. Most of the scheduling and payments for these happen online with limited paperwork involved. It is still unknown how Tesla will replicate this model in India, with the minimal numbers it is expected to do initially. The wide distances its target markets are most likely to be separated by.

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