Ola's Bhavish Aggarwal says special treatment for Tesla not in India's interest, report says


Granting special incentives to encourage US electric car major Tesla to come to India will not be in the best interest of the country, Ola Electric CEO Bhavish Aggarwal has said.

“Tesla is free to come in and put up a shop here and sell its cars,” Aggarwal told the London-based business publication Financial Times. “They just want to be treated differently from others, which I believe is not in the interests of India.”

The Elon Musk run-company had a keen interest in entering the Indian market, but its demand for a cut in import duties, which can go up to 100% of the cost of the vehicle, has led to a tussle with the government, which is pushing for local manufacturing of vehicles. This has led to Tesla halting its plans to enter the Indian market.

Musk had on May 28 tweeted about his lack of interest in setting up a plant before entering the market in India. “Tesla will not put a manufacturing plant in any location where we are not allowed first to sell and service cars,” he had tweeted.

Tesla wants to import and sell in India first before manufacturing. The company is known to lobby governments around the world for special incentives. In China, for example, Tesla has been able to start operations without having to partner with a local company, which has been the law in the country for many years.

The company’s first hire in India was Manuj Khurana in 2021 as the public policy head to lead its lobbying efforts.

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Reuters had reported in June that Khurana has left Tesla, indicating that the company’s plans of entering India have been stalled.

ET had reported on May 5 that Tesla had re-assigned all its employees in the country to work for the larger Asia Pacific market.

Ola Electric, an electric two-wheeler manufacturer, is working on an electric car project. Aggarwal gave a sneak peek of it at a recent event in Bengaluru.

The company is scouting for land in various states for making the car and its own lithium-ion battery cells that power electric vehicles. Currently, all Indian EV makers import cells from other countries.

The recent spate of electric vehicles catching fire, including an Ola scooter, has not helped the company saw its sales slump month on month.
ET had reported on June 24 that Ola Electric is only able to register sales of 130-200 units per day, which is way off its ambition of making 10 million scooters a year.

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