BLOGS & OPINION

Why India is really interested in Tesla

model3_quarter_mod2-1This week I read reports in the local newspaper about Indian transport minister Nitin Gadkari’s visit to the Tesla plant in the US. The hon’ble minister invited Tesla to come and make in India. We could do with more cars like Tesla on Indian roads — electric powered vehicles will certainly bring down the pollution levels. But I’m not so sure if everyone can afford a Tesla Model-3 (the lowest priced model) which sells for $35,000 (INR 23,49,550). And there would certainly be a long waiting list. Right now I’m imagining a lot of Tesla’s zooming on Indian roads in autopilot mode;  I’m not so sure if autopilot will reduce the number of road accidents in India. Will Tesla cars in India become as common as the local Auto Rickshaw (tuk-tuk)? I suspect that the Indian government is really after something else — like the Solar energy business (SolarCity) —  a sister concern of Tesla. And of course, the batteries that power the Teslas. Then there could also be interests in SpaceX (a partnership with India’s ISRO, perhaps).

Before I delve on the clean energy business, a small deviation, if I may?

I’m half way through Elon Musk ‘s autobiography (Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future). And I lap up every news item about Tesla. I was in Whitefield, Bengaluru two days ago, and I swear I saw a Tesla Model-X (the SUV version)  zooming out of one of those swanky tech parks and disappearing into the dark road ahead. How could I be sure? I saw the Tesla logo on the car and also the unique wheel hubs. Some rich techie going home, I guess.

SolarCity

The shortage of energy continues to be a major problem in India. The Indian Express reports: power minister Piyush Goyal said that all villages would be electrified by the end of 2016. The government  previously set a deadline for this – May 2017.

We have plenty of Sun in India, yet we are not so successful at harnessing it for our energy needs. Perhaps Elon Musk and his SolarCity business could show us the way.

The well-funded SolarCity is revolutionizing the energy industry in the US. It could take up local manufacturing of solar panels through the Made in India initiative.

SolarCity has devised an interesting scheme for electrification of schools — and this could work for schools in the rural districts in India. For every megawatt of solar power SolarCity installs, its GivePower foundation will donate a solar power system and battery to a school without electricity.

More than the Teslas, India could benefit from the clean energy from SolarCity.

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Brian Pereira

Brian Pereira has over two decades of journalism experience. He is the former Editor of CHIP and InformationWeek magazines in India. You can write to Brian at: brian9p@gmail.com Twitter: @brian9p Linkedin: https://in.linkedin.com/in/pereirabrian

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