For long, Elon Musk has been trying to foray into the Indian market through Tesla and Starlink, but nothing has materialised so far. Musk has, vocally and frequently, expressed his desires to enter the Indian market and has spoken about how he was being stopped due to regulatory issues. Indian netizens have also urged the billionaire to share his India plans with them. But who knew that one of Musk’s products would be so quickly available in India.
To be fair, that product – Twitter – was already in India and the mainstay of Indian netizens. It has just switched hands, and by technicality, offered itself as a Musk product to Indians.
Why does this assume importance? Well, because Tesla and Starlink are both staring at regulatory issues, delaying their entry into the market, which is a disappointment for Indian users.
Indian netizens have been asking Musk when Tesla would come to the country. But as most know, the import duties on Tesla vehicles are acting as a deterrent for its foray into the country.
Musk had said on Twitter that while he wants to come to India, the import duties here are by far the highest in the world. India, on its part, has deliberately kept import duties high to boost local manufacturing. Moreover, there are other benefits for electric vehicles (EV) in India, including lower GST rates (5 per cent), income tax reduction, and zero road tax in many states.
Moreover, Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari had said during the India Today Conclave 2021, “I asked Tesla officials not to make the car in China and sell it in India. It is something I had in my mind and I told them. Come to India, make it here, sell it here, and export from here. The government will provide you all the help and support you need.”
He had also, separately, said during the Business Today’s Brainstorm Budget 2022 event that Tesla should start manufacturing in India. “If they want to manufacture in China and export to India then it is not good news for the country,” he said.
Additionally, SpaceX’s Internet venture Starlink has been asked by the Indian government to refund its pre-orders till it receives a commercial licence. It had received 5,000 pre-orders but was struggling to get a commercial licence without which it cannot operate in the country. Starlink has launched small satellites for its low-Earth orbit network to provide low-latency broadband internet services around the world.
The company had said in an email to its customers that the timeline for receiving the licence to operate is “currently unknown”.
Starlink’s country head Sanjay Bhargava also stepped down from his role.
Then there is The Boring Company with its hyperloop and tunnels. The tunnels are aimed at solving traffic snarls and enabling hyperloop, but its foray into India does not seem likely in the foreseeable future.
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