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Tesla in Bengaluru: Beyond Electric Vehicles, It May Serve a Particular Vison of PM Modi

Tesla and Elon Musk are an inspiration for many, and the news of Tesla registering its office in Bengaluru rightfully adds to the business buzz. Arguably, companies like Tesla are not there to ride any momentary ‘trend’. It has long-term plans. Thus, a company that envisions long-term objectives opening its wing in India underscores the progress that India has made progress in laying out infrastructures and creating the policy focus essential for such long-term plans to realise.

Signal from Tesla

It is reported that the American electric car maker Tesla has registered its Indian arm amid indications of the company preparing to enter the country’s automobile market. According to a regulatory filing, the firm has registered Tesla India Motors and Energy Pvt Ltd with RoC Bangalore.

The Push from the Administration

It was in September 2015 that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited the Tesla factory and had an elaborate discussion with Elon Musk.

It was followed up by the government as the Union Minister Nitin Gadkari paying a visit to the Tesla factory near San Francisco in July 2016. He had briefed the media at that time, saying that the Tesla senior executive admitted that their manufacturing hub has to be outside the US for markets in rest of the world and appreciated the Indian offer of cooperation which they said will certainly be considered at the appropriate time in future. They said India will definitely be a market for their next generation low cost sustainable model-3. The also enquired about the subsidy policy that the government is proposing for electric vehicles.

All such interactions and pitches from the government must have worked in persuading Tesla to make its mind to enter India. In 2019, Elon Musk replied to a tweet confirming that the company has plans for India operations.

Beyond Electric Vehicles, PM Modi’s Vision

India is pushing for the use of electric vehicles via the FAME scheme, and Tesla coming to Bengaluru is great news in this regard. But Tesla’s entry signals have evoked more than mere enthusiasm in electric vehicle manufacturing segments.

If you revisit the tweet of Prime Minister Modi after his visit to Tesla facility in 2015, you would know what was on the top of his mind and what he is expecting from Tesla’s operation in India. Besides the obvious electric vehicles and the transformation it can bring to transport sector, the element that occupies the top of PM Modi’s mind is farmers’ welfare. Read this tweet to understand the context.

An analysis back then in The Indian Express perhaps rightly captured the broad vison of Prime Minister Narendra Modi when it wrote:

“At Tesla, Modi was not really looking to bring the technology behind Elon Musk’s highly successful, but extremely expensive, cars to India. In fact, the Indian delegation had its eyes on his Powerwall and how this solar battery could help us tap one resource we have in abundance. The $3,000 Tesla Powerwall, or any similar concept, could help make a lot of Indian households self-sufficient in their energy needs at least for most of the year.”

The Research and Development facility that is expected to be set up in Bengaluru by Tesla may further find the path to reduce the cost of batteries and solar panels etc, which will not only usher the movement of electric vehicles but also help farmers and households to make the effective use of renewable energy.

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