An Indian Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has called on American EV automaker to avoid selling its China-made cars in the country as the company looks to enter into the world’s 2nd most populous country.
According to Gadkari, Tesla should make cars in India and sell them in India and also export it from India by relying on local suppliers.
Currently, imported Tesla cars start within the range of US$46,671 (IN₹3.5 million) in India but the Indian government wants to provide whatever help the company needs to establish a factory in the country according to Gadkari.
Tesla however made it known back in August that it has received approval to make or import about four EV models in India according to a posting on the highways ministry website.
Tesla currently makes cars in its US factories and Shanghai, China but also waiting for final approval to create a new manufacturing plant in Germany.
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While Gadkari’s comments might be economically driven in order for the country to reduce its reliance on its neighbor, China, it can also be traced back to a deadly political rivalry between the two world’s most populous nations especially after the clash both countries had last year over the disputed Himalayan border.
The COVID-19 pandemic also caused some global trade tensions as China has intensified the need for countries around the world to move manufacturing bases out of the country in order to reduce supply-chain risks.
China is literally the manufacturing headquarter of the world and big brands such as Apple have their manufacturing done in the country.
As Tesla seeks to further expand across the globe, the company’s CEO Elon Musk said that the company’s plant near Berlin is expected to start producing EVs as early as next month even though it still awaits final approval from the country’s government.
The factory will start the production of the Model Y by November or December according to Elon Musk during a Saturday visit to the site which is located in Gruenheide – where the company hosted thousands of locals at an Oktoberfest-style country fair.
The report has it that the factory might source batteries from other Tesla’s facilities in China until a cell factory in Germany is completed, Musk said.
“The start of production is nice, but volume production is the hard part,” Musk said, adding that Tesla targets making between 5,000 and 10,000 vehicles a week at Gruenheide, located east of Berlin, by the end of next year. “We are going to need a lot of talented, hardworking people to get there.”
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Progress at the Grueheide factory hasn’t been as smooth as expected by Tesla over different lawsuits from environmental groups who are concerned about water use and wildlife all of which have delayed the plant’s operation for several months now.
Tesla’s plan for the factory is to make as many as 500,000 cars alongside the production of battery cells.
While Musks latest visit to Germany’s factory marks the final stretch of construction, the company still await final approval from the government which will further cement its brand’s presence in Europe despite a stiff rivalry from well established European brands like Volkswagen, Daimler, and BMW all of which are racking up their EV production as well.
For Germany, the plant promises new jobs in a region that lost most of its heavy industry during World War II.
Locals have filed more than 800 complaints that are currently being discussed via an online consultation process that is to last until October 14. The region’s environmental authorities have vowed to make a decision on final approval only after that process ends.
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However, Tesla still believes there will be a successful outcome despite the legal tussle.
The company displayed its Model Y test rides, a Ferris wheel, and tours of the factory’s interior.
In a nod to some of the environmental opposition, Musk said Tesla will plant more trees than it has cut down and make sure the factory uses as little water as possible.
Musk said he aims to introduce more Tesla products in Europe next year, including its solar roof and its so-called Full Self-Driving system (FSD).
“It’s looking highly likely to be in Europe next year,” he said of FSD.
Even though the future of FSD is still far, the company believes its current technology still requires a lot of human intervention to avoid fatal errors.