Exclusive: Tesla to start testing Model 3 in India from July-August; aims year-end launch

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Tesla India has stepped up efforts to ready its leadership team and set up its sales infrastructure for a year-end launch in India. Tesla will come up with company-owned showrooms in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi, while it may explore a franchise-based model for its workshops.

There is a flurry of activity at Tesla India as it steps up efforts to ready its leadership team and set up its sales infrastructure for a year-end launch. The world's most valued carmaker is looking to bring Model 3 cars to India by July or August for testing, sources in the know told CNBC-TV18. In fact, three of Tesla's Model 3 cars arrived in Mumbai on Friday afternoon.
Tesla's Model 3 is its most affordable and largest selling product in the world.
Backend work to get the product ready for sale before the end of the year is currently underway, as the cars will be brought in for testing, Automotive Research of India or ARAI approvals and for other compliances.
To begin with, Tesla will go slow with installing its India footprint, as it'll look to test waters in the market beginning with major metros, and also attain better clarity with respect to regulations and schemes surrounding electric vehicle & battery manufacturing in India.
CNBC-TV18 wrote to Tesla for a comment on the story but did not hear back at the time of filing this story.
Tesla will come up with company-owned showrooms in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi, while it may explore a franchise-based model for its workshops in the country.
At the helm of these affairs will be a senior leadership team that will operate out of Mumbai. At present, Tesla India is a six-member strong team, with the latest appointment being Samir Jain, as Aftersales Lead for the company. Jain started at Tesla this month, after a seven-year-long stint at luxury carmaker Porsche, where he was heading the aftersales and network development function.
Earlier in March, Tesla hired former Ather Energy executive Nishant Nishant as India's head for Charging Infrastructure. Nishant will head the supercharging, destination charging & home charging business for Tesla India, according to his professional profile.
The EV pioneer also hired Manuj Khurana in March. Khurana is the founder of a strategic management consultancy in the new mobility space, NewMo, and will oversee the policy & business development for Tesla in India.
Chithra Thomas, a Human Resources executive with experience in global organisations such as Walmart has been recruited to the company as Country HR leader, and Vaibhav Taneja has been appointed Chief Accounting Officer.
The six-member team is currently spread across Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi. Sources told CNBC-TV18 that the team will be expanded fairly significantly over the next couple of months, even as discussions to hire for other senior leadership roles are on.
Tesla has a clear mandate for its sales team - to achieve a superior customer experience consistent with its global standard, which will start off as a sort of a controlled experiment in cities with an affluent class of buyers, and also those which can support the charging infrastructure required for a class-leading EV.
While Tesla is currently incorporated in Bangalore, in Karnataka, a fitting choice considering the vibrant electric mobility start-up ecosystem, the company is yet to zero in on a site for a future production facility.
Several states have come forward to offer land at attractive propositions to Tesla, but the carmaker is understood to be mulling its options as it works alongside a real estate advisory firm. While local production will be crucial to bringing down the exorbitant duties and taxes that the completely built-up (CBU) unit of the Model 3 will attract, setting up manufacturing will be a function of how demand pans out and how tax and EV policies evolve.

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