*This article was originally published in CleanTechnica
Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister, Edappadi K. Palaniswami, is on an investment tour in the US and the UK. In the US, he stopped by the Tesla plant in San Francisco. According to Times of India, a press release stated that “The CM visited Tesla Inc unit in Fremont and got to see the manufacturing of environment-friendly vehicles, batteries, and energy storage products.”
There have been quite a few requests from Twitter users to Elon Musk to bring Tesla to India. One of the most vocal of the voices is the founder of Tesla Club India, Nikhil Chaudhary Birbhan. So is Arun Bhat, a Tesla Model 3 reservation holder since April 2016 and a member of the club. Tesla India Club is an online unofficial club based in India that supports Tesla and wants to see India embrace Tesla and its mission.
Nikhil is a student at Delhi University and wrote Elon Musk an open letter about Tesla’s possible future in India. In the letter, he points out that India has some of the most polluted cities in the world and reminds us of Tesla’s mission to accelerate the world’s transition to clean sustainable energy.
In the letter, Nikhil makes a suggestion that perhaps Tesla should start with solar and grid-sized batteries before electric vehicles in India. He points out that the solar industry in India is booming and India aims to have 80 GW of solar power capacity by 2020. Later on, maybe a Gigafactory that can produce both solar panels and electric vehicles would be logical in the country.
Tesla initially opened up its reservation page for Model 3, its most affordable electric car to date, for Indian buyers on April 1, 2016. But initial teething problems and import duty structure have prevented Tesla from making the car available for purchase even to reservation holders.
Elon also said in the Tesla shareholder meeting that he would be surprised if they won’t be there by next year. He has also explained why Tesla may not come to India soon and it’s due to import fees. “For other countries, we pay in part for the local factory by selling cars there ahead of time. Also, gives a sense of demand. Current rules in India prevent that, but recent changes in sales tax give hope for future changes.”
Perhaps this visit from Chief Minister Palaniswami will help change that. On his tour, he learned about the Tesla Supercharger Network and ways to help prevent pollution caused by gas and diesel cars in the state. He also went to the Tesla factory in Fremont and, according to DTNEXT, sources have confirmed that his visit to Tesla was part of his initial itinerary since he has been keen on inviting Tesla to his state. He gave a presentation about the facilities for investing in the state’s automobile sector and incentives that the state would offer.