Tesla in India – Sleek Model X & Model S spotted in India!

Instagram handle NCRSpottings has captured a Tesla Model X in Delhi, and seeing this product on Indian roads, we thought it would the right time to discuss about the prospects of Tesla in India. The company’s founder Elon Musk has said that the high import duties of electric vehicles in India (100% duty for imports) would make his cars not affordable. Since the EV market is undeveloped and demand is at a nascent stage, we believe Tesla would wait a few years and watch how India takes to long-range EVs like the Tata Nexon EV, Mahindra eXUV300, MG ZS EV, Hyundai Kona and the upcoming Rs 10 lakh Hyundai electric SUV before even thinking about setting up a local office.

That said, Tesla would have to develop and locally manufacture cars smaller than the Model 3 to drive the mass adoption of Tesla in India in the personal car segment.

Instagrammer Pratik Srivastav has captured the Tesla Model S and Model X on the Indian roads of Mumbai. These cars are not here for testing or gearing up for a launch anytime soon. Elon Musk, CEO – Tesla, has a few months back has said that the import duties are extremely in India and they will make the brand’s cars too expensive. The Teslas in India are private imports that belong to the rich and famous.

Tesla Model S & X – Among the safest cars in the world

The Model S and Model X are engineered to be the safest cars on the road and to have the highest ratings from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with Model X becoming first and only SUV to ever receive a 5-star safety rating in every category and sub-category. Recently, Model X received a 5-star safety rating from the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP). Model X achieved a near-perfect score in the Adult Occupant Protection category, scoring a full 8 out of 8 points on the Frontal Offset Deformable Barrier test, and 16 out of 16 possible points on the Side Impact tests.

Tesla Model S – Another Tesla electric car in India

Introduced in June 2012, the Tesla Model S is a five-door liftback sedan. It maybe an eight-year model now, but it is still a beloved rare sight in India. With only a handful of Tesla models in India, any Tesla on the road is considered to be a lucky spotting. Being a sedan, the Model S is even rarer than the Model X.

The blue Tesla Model S in the image is the now-discontinued-P100D variant reportedly owned by Mr. Mukesh Ambani, the Chairman & MD of Reliance Industries Limited and the country’s richest person. This is the only Tesla Model S in India seen so far. Media reports suggest that this Tesla in India was shipped to the business tycoon in March 2019.

The Tesla Model S is an all-electric rival to executive luxury cars sold in India like the Mercedes E-Class, Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, etc. The E-segment EV is manufactured exclusively at the Fremont factory in the State of California, USA. However, for orders shipped to Netherlands, Germany, France and Belgium, the final assembly takes place at the Tilburg factory in the North Brabant Province, Netherlands.

The Tesla Model S can easily take on some of the best luxury cars in India with its really advanced electric powertrain and other technologies. However, launching a Tesla in India at a competitive price would require some level of localisation. Currently, there’s no plan for a Tesla India factory.

The Tesla Model S holds the same level of significance in the luxury EV space held by the Nissan Leaf in the case of budget EVs. Featuring a super-sleek design that’s almost as appealing even eight years later today, the American electric car boasts some promising figures such as a 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) acceleration time of just 2.3 seconds, a 163 mph (262 km/h), EPA-certified range of 402 miles (647 km), etc. Needless to say, the performance figures apply to the range-topping configuration. The top-end Tesla Model S price in the USA is $94,990 (INR 70.91 lakh). The base Tesla Model S, which is the one to offer the 402 mile-range, costs $74,990 (INR 55.90 lakh). Both are all-wheel drive configurations. Detailed specifications have been covered further below in the story.

All-glass roof, 17-inch central touchscreen, flush door handles, air suspension, HEPA air filtration system and Autopilot are some of the other highlights of the Tesla Model S. Autopilot is Tesla’s branding for its autonomous driving technology suite, which is currently at Level 2 (SAE J3016). The famous ‘Summon’ feature (video above) that allows the driver to automatically retrieve their Tesla using the paired smartphone is a part of Autopilot.

On the Tesla Model X electric SUV

Unveiled in September 2015, the Tesla Model X is the brand’s first SUV and it also belongs to the E segment. Being an SUV, it is much more popular in India. The first Tesla Model X in India was reportedly imported in December 2017 and it was said to be the first Tesla in India. The first unit was reportedly a 90D variant (discontinued now) and is owned by Essar Group Director Prashant Ruia in Mumbai. Since then, we’ve seen a white Tesla Model X 100D doing rounds in Surat & Mumbai, a grey Tesla Model X P100D in Delhi and a blue Tesla Model X 100D that was said to be destined to Ahmedabad.

One might say from the looks of it that the executive electric SUV basically a jacked-up, ballooned out Tesla Model S. Well, that’s probably what it is, but in Tesla’s defence, in the best possible iteration of it. It has been nothing but an absolute success for the company!

The Tesla Model X’s biggest talking point is Falcon Wing doors (video below). The double hinged doors ensure that entry and exit for the rear-seat passengers is really easy and that it’s always made with a style. Automatically opening and closing front doors similarly, but in no way to the same extent, make ingress and egress convenient and futuristic for the driver and front passenger.

The Tesla Model X may not look like it can pack three rows of seats from the outside, but it does. It can be had as a five-seater, six-seater or a seven-seater. A huge panoramic glass roof covers the first two rows, giving occupants a panoramic view outside. The aforementioned HEPA filter system ensures they breathe medical-grade air in the cabin regardless how polluted the surrounding environment outside is. Similarly, a 17-inch central touchscreen that allows controlling almost all the functions of the vehicle and Autopilot are also included in the Tesla Model X features.

Like the Tesla Model S, the Tesla Model X is an AWD EV. It can accelerate from 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) as quickly as in 2.6 seconds and attain a top speed of 163 mph. Its most efficient configuration has an EPA-certified range of 351 miles (565 km). In the USA, the Tesla Model X price is available in Long Range Plus and Performance variants, at a price of $79,990 and $99,990 respectively. Like the aforementioned sedan, it is manufactured exclusively at the Fremont plant, with the final assembly for select European markets taking place at the Tilburg plant.

What is the price of Tesla in India?

An Indian importer asked for INR 1.85 crore for the Tesla Model S in 2018.

For those wondering what would a Tesla cost in India via private import, the answer will be in eight digits. Autocraft Customisation, the company which imported a blue Tesla Model X 100D for a customer in August 2018, had said then said on facebook.com that it was quoting a price of INR 1.85 crore onwards for Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X.

While India has no shortage of crorepatis, seeing a Tesla in India a rarer occasion compared to spotting a Lamborghini or even a Rolls-Royce. The ownership of Tesla EVs can become a risky gamble in the event of an accident or any other damages. Finding replacement parts locally would be virtually impossible right now and even if an owner shells out a hefty sum for importing them, getting a reliable service centre for the fix could be a problem because these models are sophisticated electric vehicles. Any technical issues, breakdowns or other possible mishaps could prove a nightmare for the owner.

Will Tesla bring autonomous cars in India?

Tesla is unlikely to offer autonomous cars in India if it decides to launch products here due to government’s stance on driverless cars.

Tesla, or any other automaker for that matter, is highly unlikely to offer autonomous driving technology in India. India may be enthusiastic about autonomous vehicles but the infrastructure is not ready.

There’s also the factor of what India’s policy makers or the government make of autonomous driving technologies. Mr Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport & Highways, and MSMEs, for instance, said he would not allow driverless cars, protecting jobs in the chauffeur and cab driver sector.

In the autonomous vehicles readiness index KPMG released in 2018, citing Mr Nitin Gadkari’s statement effectively banning autonomous vehicles in India, it said that India has been given a zero score in many policy and legislation categories. According to the same research study by KPMG in 2019, Indians lead the poll on enthusiasm for autonomous vehicles, and the country’s companies are working on their technologies. However, the country’s rank in the index of nations’ readiness for autonomous vehicles slipped to 24 (from 20 in 2018) that year.

As much as Tesla would love to offer autonomous cars in India, we don’t see that happening anytime soon.

When is Tesla launch going to happen in India?

Tesla hasn’t announced when it will launch its models in India.

Time and again, Elon Musk has shown interest in introducing Tesla in India. However, the country’s policies towards imported automobiles have never made a business case for Tesla EVs feasible. The demand for C-segment and other higher class models is quite low in our market because of their expensiveness, and those are the only segments in which Tesla is expected to have a presence for the foreseeable future. So, there’s no motive to set up a Tesla India plant either. Most of India’s auto sales come from A- and B-segment models.

In addition to the exorbitant import duties and the steep taxes that could make buying a Tesla in India about 3 times costlier than in the company’s home market, the poor charging infrastructure is a problem. A widespread Tesla Supercharger network (the company’s own network of charging stations) in India probably won’t make sense initially mainly due to the high costs involved. So, the company may wait until the government and other automakers already present in the country set up a decent charging infrastructure and for the demand for EVs pick up, before launching Tesla in India.

Tesla developing a more affordable vehicle

While the Tesla Model 3 was the company’s first model for which pre-orders were accepted from customers in India, the Tesla Model Y being an SUV would be a more suitable model to enter our market with now. A smaller Tesla model (unofficially called the Tesla Model 2) is being designed for the global market, and it could hold good potential for our market given its size and target price.

Tesla Model S specifications

Dimensions

AspectSpecification
Length4,970 mm
Width1,964 mm (excl. mirrors)
Height1,445 mm
Wheelbase2,960 mm
Front Overhang929 mm
Rear Overhang1,081 mm
Ground Clearance116.8-160 mm (air suspension)
Front Track1,662 mm
Rear Track1,700 mm
Front Headroom986 mm
Rear Headroom899 mm
Front Shoulder Room1,466 mm
Rear Shoulder Room1,397 mm
Front Hip Room1,397 mm
Rear Hip Room1,389 mm
Front Cargo Volume59.5 litres
Rear Cargo Volume744.7 litres
Total Cargo Volume (rear seats not folded down)804.2 litres
Rear Cargo Volume (with seats folded down)1,645.2 litres

Motor

AspectSpecification
Front Motor TypeAC permanent magnet synchronous motor, liquid-cooled, with variable frequency drive
Front Motor Power205 kW (Long Range Plus & Performance)
Front Motor Torque420 Nm (Long Range Plus & Performance)
Rear Motor TypeAC induction motor, liquid-cooled, with variable frequency drive
Rear Motor Power193 kW (Long Range Plus )/375 kW (Performance)
Rear Motor Torque335 Nm (Long Range Plus)/720 Nm (Performance)

Battery

AspectSpecification
TypeLithium-ion, liquid-cooled
Capacity100 kWh
Voltage350 V DC

Performance

AspectSpecification
0-60 mph3.7 seconds (Long Range Plus)/2.3 seconds (Performance)
Top Speed155 mph (Long Range Plus)/163 mph (Performance)

Range

VariantTesla Model S range
Long Range Plus402 miles (EPA estimated)
Performance358 miles (EPA estimated)

Charging

AspectSpecification
On-board Charger11.5 kW (48 amp)

Tesla Model X specifications

Dimensions

AspectSpecification
Length5,036 mm
Width1,999 mm (excl. mirrors)
Height1,684 mm
Wheelbase2,965 mm
Front Overhang974 mm
Rear Overhang1,097 mm
Ground Clearance171-223 mm (air suspension)
Front Track1,705 mm
Rear Track1,710 mm
1st-row Headroom1,059 mm
2nd-row Headroom1,039 mm mm
3rd-row Headroom942 mm
1st-row Shoulder Room1,542 mm
2nd-row Shoulder Room1,442 mm
3rd-row Shoulder Room1,016 mm
1st-row Hip Room1,412 mm
2nd-row Hip Room1,498 mm
3rd-row Hip Room978 mm
Front Cargo Volume187 litres
Rear Cargo Volume (2nd-row seats fully forward and/or folded)2,299.5 litres (5-seat)/2,002 litres (6-seat)/2,166 litres (7-seat)
Total Cargo Volume2,486.5 litres (5-seat)/2,189 litres (6-seat)/2,353 litres (7-seat)

Motor

AspectSpecification
Front Motor TypeAC permanent magnet synchronous motor, liquid-cooled, with variable frequency drive
Front Motor Power205 kW (Long Range Plus & Performance)
Front Motor Torque420 Nm (Long Range Plus & Performance)
Rear Motor TypeAC induction motor, liquid-cooled, with variable frequency drive
Rear Motor Power193 kW (Long Range Plus )/375 kW (Performance)
Rear Motor Torque335 Nm (Long Range Plus)/720 Nm (Performance)

Battery

AspectSpecification
TypeLithium-ion, liquid-cooled
Capacity100 kWh
Voltage350 V DC

Performance

AspectSpecification
0-60 mph4.4 seconds (Long Range Plus)/2.6 seconds (Performance)
Top Speed155 mph (Long Range Plus)/163 mph (Performance)

Range

VariantTesla Model S range
Long Range Plus402 miles (EPA estimated)
Performance358 miles (EPA estimated)

Charging

AspectSpecification
On-board Charger11.5 kW (48 amp)