The US electric automaker Tesla Inc three months after being registered as a local company in India is now scouting for locations to open showrooms in three Indian cities.
The company has hired an executive to lead its lobbying and business efforts ahead of its planned entry into the country, sources familiar with the discussions told Reuters.
Tesla is expected to import and sell the Model 3 sedan by as early as mid-2021, seeking to target rich customers in a niche market.
The world’s most valuable automaker by market capitalisation is looking for commercial properties as large as 20,000-30,000 square feet each to open showrooms and service centres in the capital New Delhi, financial hub Mumbai in the west and tech city Bengaluru in the south, three sources said.
Separately, Tesla has recruited Manuj Khurana, a former executive of India’s investment promotion body Invest India, in the first major hire to lead its policy and business development efforts in the country, two other sources said.
India won’t be an easy market for Tesla
Some luxury car showrooms in upmarket areas of metro cities are typically between 8,000-10,000 square feet, but most showrooms are far smaller in India where high-end real estate space is usually in short supply and property prices in New Delhi and Mumbai are among the highest in the world.
“If you look at Tesla’s showrooms globally, they are like experience centres. It would look at replicating that with some modifications for the Indian market,” said one of the sources, all of whom declined to be identified as the talks are private.
India isn’t likely to be an easy market to crack for Tesla.
The country has negligible charging infrastructure and high taxes on imported cars, as well as low adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).
India recorded just 5,000 EV sales out of the total 2.4 million cars sold last year, while in China new energy vehicle sales touched 1.25 million.