Less than a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Tesla’s state-of-the-art factory in Fremont, California, his government has invited American electric carmaker to set up a manufacturing hub for South and South East Asia in India.
Nitin Gadkari, minister of road transport and highways, who visited the company’s San Francisco factory on Friday, offered land near major Indian ports to facilitate exports, an official statement said.
The minister offered to promote joint ventures between the global leader in electric car technology and Indian automobile companies to introduce pollution-free road transport in India.
Gadkari not only showed interest in electric cars but also battery-powered commercial and public vehicles. He said Indian government was committed to encourage pollution-free transport by providing incentives to bio-fuel, CNG, ethanol and electric vehicles.
The official statement quoted a senior Tesla executive as saying, the Indian government’s offer would be considered at an appropriate time.
Replying to a query from the highways minister regarding manufacturing of electric trucks, buses and two-wheelers, Tesla said they plan to manufacture trucks and pick-up vans but not buses and two-wheelers. Tesla team evinced interest in knowing about subsidy on electric vehicles in India.
Gadkari asked the company executives to outline their proposal for entry into India.
As part of his Silicon Valley visit last year, Modi had toured Tesla factory in California. Tesla CEO Elon Musk showed Modi the cutting-edge robotic auto assembly plant.
The PM was also shown the inside of a lithium-ion battery pack, which powers Tesla’s cars.
Musk and Modi had said they saw batteries and solar panels as the future of electricity generation in India. Musk, also CEO of SpaceX, had said, just like India skipped landlines and went straight to cell phones, it could skip traditional grid power and adopt distributed solar and battery packs.
Even though Tesla cars have become quite popular among some of the wealthiest Indians, there is still no infrastructure of electric cars in India. According to analysts, there was a huge potential for Tesla’s batteries combined with solar panels in India. Tesla’s grid batteries have also found overwhelming demand across the world.
“Given high local demand, a Gigafactory in India would probably make sense in the long term,” Musk had told reporters after Modi’s visit. Electric cars use lithium ion batteries and a manufacturing facility for such batteries is called Gigafactory.
Indian carmakers have also shown keen interest in partnering with Tesla to popularise electric cars and develop infrastructure. On the other hand, In China, Tesla has 15 stores and there are about 350 Superchargers and more than 1,600 destination chargers.
On Thursday, Musk, announced that he was close to releasing “Top Secret Tesla Masterplan, Part 2.” The new corporate manifesto is likely to connect the dots between Tesla’s myriad projects, including its proposal to acquire solar installer SolarCity Corp. Tesla’s website, which historically has focused on clean transportation, now said the mission was to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
Speculation about the future of the company — a potential green conglomerate that integrates rooftop solar, energy storage and increasingly autonomous, fully electric cars — has sparked imaginations of analysts and boosted confidence. That’s despite a customer using Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assist technology being killed in a crash in Florida, subsequent safety and possible securities investigations, the defection of a manufacturing executive to Facebook and missing yet another sales target.
In August 2006, Musk published “The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan,” which laid out the rationale for building increasingly affordable electric cars while also providing zero-emission electric-power generation options. But it’s not just about the cars. Tesla has always focused on the vehicles as well as their fuel — in this case their growing network of Supercharger stations and efforts to increasingly clean the electric grid that powers them.
And while the mission of the company has historically been to “accelerate the advent of electric transportation,” Tesla’s website now said the mission is about sustainable energy.
“Tesla is not just an automaker, but also a technology and design company with a focus on energy innovation,” says the website.
In a call with analysts last month, Musk talked about the need for the Tesla Powerwall for the home to be designed in tandem with solar panels, as one integrated, Tesla-branded system. He was as bullish on solar as he has been on electric cars.
“Like, only about 1 per cent of US homes have solar, so you have a massive addressable market that’s unserved and there’s at least 40 million to 60 million households that where solar — where they could do solar if they wanted to,” said Musk. “So if the economics were right and they like the aesthetics and it was easy to do, then they would do it. So the future market there is really gigantic.”
In 2013, India introduced a National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) to have six million electric vehicles, including two-wheelers, by 2020. Government aims to provide fiscal and monetary incentives to popularise the nascent technology. If this plan becomes a reality, India could save 9,500 million litres of crude oil equivalent to Rs 62,000 crore savings.