Confusion over Tesla’s plans to set up India plant prevails


The intent of the statement, the people said, was to show global investor interest in India.

By Sharan Poovanna, Bengaluru

UPDATED ON FEB 16, 2021 10:24 AM IST

Confusion over the plans of California-based Tesla and its billionaire founder, Elon Musk, in Karnataka continues days after the chief minister BS Yediyurappa issued a statement confirming the former’s imminent entry into India.

Ever since Tesla registered a subsidiary in Bengaluru earlier in January, speculation has been rife over the plans of the iconic electric vehicle maker to enter the Indian automobile sector. The company has remained tight-lipped about its plans.

People aware of the development say the chief minister signed off on a statement confirming Tesla’s entry sent by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). “It was a statement that was sent to the chief minister’s office by the party,” said people aware of the matter, requesting anonymity.

The intent of the statement, the people said, was to show global investor interest in India.

Yediyurappa issued the statement on Saturday confirming that Tesla will indeed set up a manufacturing plant in Karnataka. But talks between the company and the state are where they were last September.

“Our officials are in constant touch with Tesla and there is still no agreement on their plans even though we have offered all available options and assistance,” Jagadish Shettar, Karnataka’s minister for large and medium industries said.

The chief minister’s statement made headlines globally, heralding Tesla’s venture into the sub-continent as an opportunity to tap the potential of India’s untapped EV sector. Electric vehicles account for less than 1% of the total automobile market estimated at $118 billion and estimated to reach $300 billion by 2026.

Tesla did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The state industries department is engaging with the company that is reported to be in talks with at least three other states in the country.

Musk, founder and chief executive officer of the Cupertino-based Tesla, said on Twitter last year that the company plans to enter India “for sure” in 2021. Tesla India has named Vaibhav Taneja, Venkatrangam Sreeram and David Jon Feinstein as the three directors of its Indian subsidiary. Taneja is Tesla’s chief accounting officer; Feinstein is global senior director of trade market access at the company; and Sreeram is an entrepreneur and former Tesla employee who was part of the company’s launch team in China.



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