Tesla Targeting India Launch As Soon As This Summer

Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) hopes to enter the Indian auto market later this year, according to a tweet today from CEO Elon Musk.

Musk, responding to a user question on Twitter about when Tesla would launch in India, indicated his battery-powered cars could launch there within the next six months.

@goel_ishan Hoping for summer this year

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 7, 2017

If successful, the move could jumpstart the company’s growth. Tesla badly lags other automakers in terms of vehicle shipments, but in a country of 1.3 billion people, that could change very quickly. Entering the market won’t be easy, however, as CNN Money notes:

Tesla does not make cars in the South Asian country, which means it is likely to have to pay hefty import duties. And getting a manufacturing operation up and running is a long and arduous process, as Apple has learned.

India has stressed the importance of its “Make In India” program, so heavy lobbying will likely need to take place if Tesla’s going to have a chance there. Apple, for example, is trying to convince lawmakers to let it import millions of used iPhones to be reconditioned by Indian workers and then sold in the country.

Crumbling infrastructure and dangerous driving conditions are among the other issues Tesla needs to consider:

There are other potential hurdles to overcome. India’s crowded roads and unreliable electricity grid are not well suited to Tesla’s sleek battery-driven cars.

Musk made his intentions in India clear previously, but today is the first signal we’ve gotten of a vague Indian launch date. He’d already added India to the list of countries the upcoming Model 3 is available for pre-order, and announced plans last year to establish a country-wide network of supercharging stations.

Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) fell $0.78 (-0.3%) in premarket trading Wednesday. Year-to-date, TSLA has gained 20.26%, versus a 2.28% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

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