Tesla Or Tata?

Illustration by Allen B Thangkhiew

Elon Musk is one of the richest people on Earth and he’s decided to bring his trillion dollar company, Tesla, to India.

Tesla’s latest foray into the Indian market evaluates their aim to become the largest EV car manufacturer on the planet. It was only last year that the company started producing vehicles outside of the United States in Shanghai, China. Elon Musk is a huge catalyst to what Tesla is today. Since joining as CEO in 2008 the company he founded , he has been instrumental in revolutionising the electric car market. In 2020, Tesla had one of its best years giving them a valuation that is more than the nine largest car companies combined.

A major downside is the fact that while Tesla is an affordable choice in markets abroad, it will not be as affordable for people in India. According to GQ India, the cheapest model that would be sold in India is the Tesla Model 3. It is their bestselling model but due to the lack of a factory in India, Tesla will have to import Completely Built Units (CBU), which will ultimately raise the price. The Model 3 will set you back an astronomical INR 55-60 lakhs (US $ 75,000-82,000). This price point is definitely out of reach for the general population which raises the question whether the price will ever go down once the factory is completed in India.

Illustration by Adoracia Nongkhlaw

Indian Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari, has stated that India should, “take the lead in producing electric vehicles”. This comes at a time where the pollution levels in the country are at an all-time high.

According to Transfin.in, coupled with a detailed report by The India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA), the electric vehicle (EV) market in India is expected to reach over 63 lakh (6,300,000) unit-mark per annum by 2027. The EV sales in India stood at 3.8 lakh (380,000) units in 2019-20, and the EV battery market reached 5.4GWh during the year.

Indian multinational conglomerate, the Tata Group, has been making major strides in capturing the EV market in India. Numerous reports have stated that Tata Motors are in the planning stages of releasing an electric version for most of their cars on sale. The Tata Altroz is expected to have an electric variant by the end of the year.

The Tata Nexon EV, has been Tata’s most in-demand electric vehicle due to its low cost and feature-packed interior. The on-road price of the vehicle ranges from INR 13.99 -16.40 lakhs (US $ 19,132-22,441).

This aggressive pricing is leaps and bounds ahead of its competitors. The Nexon’s low running cost is especially attractive as one would only have to pay for the electricity fee.

The Nexon’s popularity is also backed by impressive numbers. According to the Car and Bike Show, the vehicle became the highest selling EV in India, in 2020. It sold close to 2529 units that year. The company managed to sell around a 1000 units in only 7 months from its launch. What makes this figure even more impressive is that this was achieved at a time when the country had gone into complete lockdown.

On the one year anniversary of the Nexon’s release in India, Natarajan Chandrasekaran, Chairman, Tata Sons, said, “we are very committed to this whole acceleration of electric mobility in the country across all the major cities and eventually nationwide.”

He added, “we are committing ourselves and making all the investments necessary to be able to bring a range of models, with the right amount of range to meet the needs of all consumers.”

Based on numerous rumours, there were talks of a partnership between Tata and Tesla but all speculation have been quashed by a company spokesperson. The fact of the matter is that Tesla will be entering into a market where utility presides over luxury. It remains to be seen whether the cost of these vehicles will ever go down to a point where it can be affordable to the masses.


Illustration by Adoracia Nongkhlaw

Although Tata might be the cheaper alternative, Tesla offers a much more premium feel and overall performance.

A vehicle from Tata will generally be focusing more on the common populace whereas a Tesla machine will definitely be targeting a niche market.

It all comes down to who can afford it.


Author: Neil Wallang

Neil Wallang is a staff writer. He has a B.A (Honours) in English from Delhi University. An avid Manchester United fan, he loves technology, cars, and books.

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