Latest News

Tesla lobbies India for lower import taxes on EVs

Tesla has written to Indian ministries seeking a big reduction in import duties on electric vehicles (EVs), a move it says will boost demand and generate revenue for the government, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Its pitch, however, is likely to face resistance from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration which has championed high import taxes for many industries in a bid to boost local manufacturing.

Other luxury automakers in India have also lobbied the government in the past to lower taxes on imported cars but have had little success due to opposition from rivals with domestic operations. Tesla, which aims to begin sales in India this year, said in a letter to ministries and the country’s leading think-tank Niti Aayog that slashing federal taxes on imports of fully assembled electric cars to 40% would be more appropriate, according to the sources.

That compares with current rates of 60% for cars priced below $40,000 and 100% for those above $40,000. “The argument is that at 40% import duty, electric cars can become more affordable but the threshold is still high enough to compel companies to manufacture locally if demand picks up,” one of the sources said. The sources declined to be identified as the letter has not been made public.

Elon Musk

“We want to do so, but import duties are the highest in the world by far of any large country,” Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said on Twitter, in reply to a tweet about launching the company’s cars in India. “But we are hopeful that there will be at least a temporary tariff relief for electric vehicles,” Musk added.

According to Tesla’s US website, only one model – the Model 3 Standard Range Plus – is priced below $40,000. Niti Aayog did not respond to an email. Ministries that Tesla wrote to included the transport and heavy industries ministries, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Indian market for premium EVs, indeed for electric cars in general, is still very much in its infancy with vehicles far too costly for the average consumer and very little charging infrastructure in place.

Just 5,000 of the 2.4 million cars sold in India last year were electric and most were priced below $28,000.

Daimler’s Mercedes Benz began selling its EQC luxury EV in India last year for $136,000, and Audi launched three electric SUVs this week with sticker tags that begin at around $133,000.

While lower duties would give Tesla a better chance to test the market, its plan to begin sales in India does not hinge on a change in government policy, both sources said.

Tesla registered a local company in India in January and has ramped up local hiring while also scouting for showroom space. India’s transport minister Nitin Gadkari told Reuters in March that India would be willing to offer incentives to ensure Tesla’s cost of production in the country is less than that in China, but only if it manufactures locally.

UK EV charge-points:  Britain’s competition regulator on Friday laid out guidelines to ensure a robust electric vehicle (EV) charging network to aid the country’s net zero plans, as it also launched a probe into some charge-point operators on highways and motorways.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said Britain could require 10 times as many EV charge-points before 2030, as part of its study into the EV charging market to assesses availability and reliability of the charging points.

The regulator found that while the country’s network was growing, some parts were facing problems which could hinder a broader rollout, adding that Britain currently has around 25,000 charge-points. “Electric vehicles play a critical role in meeting Net Zero but the challenges with creating an entirely new charging network should not be underestimated,” CMA boss Andrea Coscelli said.

“Some areas of the roll-out are going well … but it’s clear that other parts, like charging at motorway service stations and on-street, have much bigger hurdles to overcome.”

Britain wants to have net zero emissions by 2050.

CMA said it was concerned about choices of charge-points at motorway service stations, where competition is limited, and added that it was looking into arrangements lasting 10-15 years between Electric Highway and operators MOTO, Roadchef and Extra.

Electric Highway makes up 80% of all points at motorway service stations in Britain, excluding Tesla charge-points, CMA said.


Opinion

Read more opinions >