Long road for Tesla in India with infrastructure, supply chain woes

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Tesla Inc is gearing up for an India launch but the U.S. electric carmaker is likely to remain a niche player for years, catering only to the rich and affluent in the world’s second-most populous nation.

India’s fledgling electric vehicle (EV) market accounted for only 5,000 out of a total 2.4 million cars sold in the country last year. A lack of local production of components and batteries, negligible charging infrastructure and the high cost of EVs mean there have been few takers in the price-conscious market.

It’s also difficult to see how Tesla’s sought-after and expensive autonomous driving features will work on India’s congested roads.

Ammar Master, a forecaster at consultancy LMC Automotive, said he expects Tesla to annually sell only 50-100 of its Model 3 electric sedans in India, at least in the first five years.

“As a country, India is still not so environmentally conscious to pay that much of a premium,” Master said.

“It always comes down to the price point. There will be some high net-worth individuals like movie stars and top business executives who will look at it for the brand value. But then, how many buyers are there?”

The world’s most valuable automobile manufacturer registered a local company in India earlier this month, a step towards its entry in the country, expected to be as early as mid-2021.

Tesla plans to import and sell the Model 3 in India for around $65,000-$75,000 – roughly double the price in the U.S. market, sources familiar with the plans said.

This means it will compete in India’s even smaller luxury EV segment that has recently started seeing interest from the likes of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Daimler’s Mercedes Benz.

The Mercedes Benz EQC, India’s first luxury EV launched in October for $136,000, and has since sold 31 units, according to auto researcher JATO Dynamics. British luxury carmarker JLR, owned by India’s Tata Motors, plans to launch its I-PACE EV before March. It sells in the United States for around $70,000. Read More

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