Tesla registers a company in India — Some questions arise

Tesla Model 3
(Image credit: Tesla)

US electric automobile giant Tesla, has registered an Indian subsidiary in Karnataka, and this is seen by many as a first step in its much talked of plans to start a manufacturing plant and R&D unit in India.

And as it happens, the way the new company has been registered has also triggered some questions. We will get to that later.

The India entity named Tesla India Motors and Energy Private Ltd was incorporated in Bengaluru on January 8, and Vaibhav Taneja, Venkatrangam Sreeram, and David Jon Feinstein have been named as directors, according to mandatory disclosures with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

"We have been interacting with Tesla for the last few months and it is a happy news that they have decided to incorporate their company here. We have impressed upon them that Bengaluru is not only the technology capital but also the aerospace and space capital. For any kind of technology collaboration, it has the right kind of talent pool," Gaurav Gupta, principal secretary, commerce & industries of Karnataka was quoted as saying.

The Karnataka government has already proposed a list of locations, Tumkur being one, to Tesla for setting up its manufacturing facility.

Tesla's India plant may not happen any time soon

Tesla coming to India is seen as a big event in these parts, and at least five different States are trying to lure it to set up a manufacturing unit.

But Tesla, on the face of it, does not seem to be in any hurry to set up a production unit. The indication is Tesla’s China factory may work as primary sourcing point to start off. The company will begin to assemble vehicles in India depending upon the demand.after visible demand.”

But there is lot of enthusiasm in the market so far. Last year, Tesla's Chief Executive Officer  (CEO) Elon Musk hinted at the company entering India in 2021. "Next year for sure," Musk said on Twitter replying to a post with a photograph of a T-shirt with the message: "India wants Tesla". From then on, there has been a groundswell of expectation in India.

Tesla's car launch in India, and its price 

Aside from manufacture and R&D, Tesla is looking for sites for sales and marketing of its vehicles in India. Initial sales will be reliant on imports, but based on demand. 

Tesla will also work closely with Tata Power and Adani Electric for setting up its charging stations. 

Tesla’s Supercharger network has been instrumental in helping the automaker grow. It already has over 20,000 chargers worldwide, covering all major markets. The latest V3 Superchargers support peak rates of up to 250kW per car, which can recover 75 miles worth of driving in just 5 minutes, while a full charge takes about an hour. Home charging is a lot slower though.

Tesla is expected to commence sales of the Model 3 in India via its online portal. The exact launch date of the Tesla vehicles in India is not known yet. But is likely to be in the first half of the year. The car is expected to be priced around Rs 60 lakh. Yes, it is going to be costly affair.

The uncomfortable queries surrounding Tesla India

Amidst all this, there is also some misgiving about the way Tesla has gone about registering its company. To start off, the Chief Minister of Karnataka BS Yediyurappa put out a tweet welcoming Elon Musk to the country and the State. But he quickly deleted it. It is not clear why he chose to do that.

Further, a company as large has Tesla has set up a subsidiary with Rs 15 lakh authorised capital & just Rs 1 lakh paid up capital. Of course, this can be increased anytime. But to put things in perspective, it is an amount that wouldn't be enough to even hire an employee.

Also, the listed e-mail is a 'g mail' id which seems unprofessional. The registered office address is a co-working space in Bengaluru. This is probably the sort of thing you would expect from a startup.

As long as there is no official word from Tesla, this could also be just a dealership office, too.

Balakumar K
Senior Editor

Over three decades as a journalist covering current affairs, politics, sports and now technology. Former Editor of News Today, writer of humour columns across publications and a hardcore cricket and cinema enthusiast. He writes about technology trends and suggest movies and shows to watch on OTT platforms.