Ten months after prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Tesla's manufacturing facilities in San Jose, California, Minister of Road Transport, Highways & Shipping Nitin Gadkari visited the EV maker’s plant on July 15.
The visit assumes importance given the Indian government’s sharp focus on electric vehicles, eco-friendly fuels and higher spend on transportation infrastructure. While at the Tesla plant, Gadkari offered to promote joint ventures between the global leader in electric car manufacturing and the Indian automobile OEMs with a view to introduce pollution-free road transport in India, especially commercial and public vehicles.
He said the Indian government is committed to encouraging alternate modes of pollution-free transport in the country by providing incentives to biofuel, CNG, ethanol and electric vehicles. He put forward a proposal to the senior executives at Tesla to make India the Asia manufacturing hub, and offered land near major Indian ports to facilitate export of the EV maker's vehicles to South and Southeast Asian countries.
What Tesla said:
The senior executives acknowledged the fact that a new manufacturing hub has to be outside the US to cater to global markets, and appreciated the Indian offer of cooperation, which will be considered at an appropriate time in the future. They said India will definitely be a market for their next-generation, low-cost Model 3 which has seen record bookings of over 4,00,000 units, including some from India.
Replying to specific queries from Gadkari regarding the manufacture of electric trucks, buses, and two-wheelers, the Tesla team said that while they have future plans for trucks and pick-up vans, buses and two-wheelers are not on the cards.
Gadkari, accompanied by a team of Tesla officials, was taken on a visit to the manufacturing plant which employs cutting-edge robotic automobile assembly operations.