Politicians from four states took to Twitter to ask Tesla Inc. to set up a store in their provinces, just days after billionaire originator Elon Musk said the U.S. electric-vehicle pioneer was still facing numerous challenges with the government.
The pitches tweeted over the weekend glorified everything from infrastructure, sustainability, and a streamlined approval procedure. They were made from various parts of India — Telangana in the south, Punjab in the north, Maharashtra in the west, and West Bengal in the east.
Musk and the state have been in talks for years. However, disputes over a local factory and import duties have led to an impasse, indicating that Tesla still doesn’t market cars in India three years after showing actual intent. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration desires Tesla to set up a factory to trade locally and export, Musk has urged on cutting import duties by as much as 100% so that Tesla can first select a market.
All the states that invited Tesla to commence operations are ruled by parties opposed to BJP, which runs the government.
In India, setting up car factories could be difficult even for local companies without government support, as land acquisition, red tape, and labor rights remain a constant challenge. For example, in 2008, Tata Motors Ltd., run by India’s most giant conglomerate. It was compelled to leave a near-complete structure in West Bengal after fierce protests by farmers against land acquisition, thwarting its endeavor to complete the Nano, the world’s most affordable car, in the state.
“Drop here, we in West Bengal have best infra & our leader @MamataOfficial has got the vision. Bengal means Business,” Ghulam Rabbani, Minister for minority affairs and Madrassah education, West Bengal, tweeted to Musk on Saturday. As an opposition leader, the state’s CM Mamata Banerjee had spearheaded a movement demanding Tata Motors return the land accepted by the provincial government to farmers reluctant to give it up.
India, the world’s fourth-largest automobile market and home to more than 1.3 billion people, is an attractive proposition for EV makers. However, its roads are still overwhelmed by cheap petrol and diesel cars produced by the local divisions of Suzuki Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co. The nation has vowed to turn net carbon zero by 2070, but electric vehicles remain out of reach for most buyers, where people earn less than $2,000 a year.