So what do you think about electric cars. You know, cars that have a battery instead of a fuel tank and that used to be ugly until Elon Musk went and did his thing. Well, if you happen to like them, we might just have some good news for you. Apparently — Drumroll please — the Modi government has extended an invitation for Tesla to set up its manufacturing units in India.
Nitin Gadkari, the Union minister for Roads and Transport, has asked Tesla to consider making India its manufacturing hub for South Asia and to sweeten the deal, offered it choice land near major Indian ports. The proximity to the sea will enable Tesla to easily transport its finished products to their respective markets.
The announcement was made in the wake of Gadkari’s visit to Tesla’s San Francisco factory on Friday. Along with offering Tesla some of the choiciest commercial location across the subcontinent, the minister has also promised to promote co-operation and facilitate joint ventures between domestic companies and Tesla, once — and if — it decides to set up shop in the country.
Along with cars, the minister also appeared to be quite keen on the electrification of commercial and public vehicles. He also stressed his ministry’s commitment to bring pollution-free transport to the country by providing incentives to bio-fuel, CNG, ethanol and electric vehicles.
The bricks for the announcement were laid as early as last year, when PM Modi visited Tesla factories as part of his US Tour and was given a go around by none other than Elon Musk himself. Musk had also raised hopes of a Tesla footprint in India after the visit, when he remarked that,
Given high local demand, a Gigafactory in India would probably make sense in the long term.
Well, as the Minister of roads and transport, pollution is probably a big issue for Mr.Gadkari. By inviting Tesla, the government is taking a small but significant step towards improving the environmental scenario of the country, while also creating a whole lot of business and employment opportunities.
The happy event would also be able to breathe some life into the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP), announced in 2013, that aims to put six million electric vehicles on Indian roads by 2020. Now unless the UPA government left a secret, giant underground facility to manufacture electric cars that will be distributed for free, we are not much nearer to realizing that goal than we were, back in 2013.
Although, there is a ton of difference between setting up a manufacturing facility to export cars, and selling cars in the domestic market. Making electric cars a viable option for the country will also involve setting up the required infrastructure, such as charging ports, maintainence centres, and ofcourse proper power supply from the grid. I mean, you won’t fancy an electric car no matter how cool it looks, if there is absolutely no charging points in horizon.
Although Indians have started seriously considering electric cars and despite the 110% or so customs duty, a fair number of battery run cars are imported every single year, usually from China. Setting up manufacturing may eventually lead to cars for the country as well.