Elon Musk Hopes to Bring Tesla to India
Tesla’s electric vehicles might be ubiquitous in places like Silicon Valley and Norway, but in other corners of the world, the automaker and energy company is entirely absent from the marketplace.
India is one of those Tesla-free zones. But that could change by this summer, according to a CEO Elon Musk, who answered a question via Twitter (TWTR) recently.
Tesla (TSLA) doesn’t just sell its vehicles anywhere. The company is typically cautious about entering into new markets and wants to ensure customers will have access to service support and charging infrastructure.
And even then, it doesn’t always go well.
The company’s initial entry in China was disappointing. In 2014, Tesla went on a hiring spree, opened stores and service centers, and began an aggressive rollout of its network of free fast-charging stations known as superchargers.
But Tesla’s first year in China didn’t pan out as expected. The company sold an estimated 3,500 cars in 2014, below its ambitious sales goal as well as behind electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles produced by Chinese rivals BYD and BAIC. Sales continued to lag in the beginning of 2015.
Tesla was eventually able to get some traction in sales in the country. But it’s an example of how even well-supported rollouts into a new market can go poorly.
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India has hurdles for foreign automakers, too. The country has a pricey import duty on vehicles from other countries. Tesla might find it easier to sell its other energy storage products—not luxury cars—in India. Or Tesla could wait for its cheaper mass-market electric car, the Model 3, before entering into the India market.
India isn’t the only country lacking a Tesla presence. Other countries, including Musk’s home country of South Africa are anxious for Tesla to arrive. In September, the South African government appealed to Tesla to move manufacturing facilities there.
The automaker did start hiring in South Africa last year to expands its energy storage division. In 2015, CEO Elon Musk introduced two battery products that will allow homeowners, businesses, and utilities to store energy, manage backup power, and ultimately, enable zero-emission power generation.