On the heels of announcing that the subsidiary Tesla India would be a reality in 2021, CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to announce that the order configurator would probably go online in January 2021. He was responding to a query from Twitter account Tesla Club India.
An order configurator is like an online store, where interested customers can view Tesla cars, see what they look like in different exterior colour options, wheel sizes, alloy wheel designs, seat upholstery colors, etc. Most importantly, an online configurator also lets buyers refer specifications of various Tesla cars, their estimated range and acceleration times.
With the launch of the online configurator, Tesla India could announce the price of its cars in the country. While customers can choose and specify their Tesla cars, and maybe even pay an initial booking amount, deliveries could commence later that year.
Tesla would do well to manufacture electric vehicles in India with a good degree of localization, to take advantage of excise duty cuts which would otherwise have to be paid for fully imported cars.
The starting days of Tesla India could see the Tesla Model Y, Model X and Model 3, while the Model S could be launched at a later time frame. Based on customer demand, the upcoming Tesla Cybertruck and Tesla Roadster could be launched in India, albeit allocated in limited quantities owing to their niche.
If assembled in India like the company does at a small facility in Netherlands, expect the Tesla Model 3 to be priced in the region of INR 45-50 lakhs, ex-Showroom, putting it bang in the middle of the Mercedes C Class and BMW 3 Series territory.
In the long run though, the future Tesla Model 2, if localized, could slot in the sub-25 lakh segment that could expand sales for the brand in the country and make the car more accessible. However, the Tesla Model 2 is still three years away from an American launch. The electric car, Musk said, would be a USD 25,000 EV with an Iron-based long cycle life battery capable of repeated charge and discharge cycles.
With the announcement of an online configurator, we think Tesla in India could be leaning towards its direct sales channel (which it uses globally) than a retail dealership. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has forced all manufacturers to offer an online purchasing option with contactless home delivery, and Tesla India could simply use this way of selling cars in India from Day 1.