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Elon Musk Says Tesla Not In India Due To ‘Challenges With The Government’

Elon Musk has expressed a desire to sell Tesla Inc. cars as early as 2019. Three years later, the electric-vehicle pioneer in the United States isn’t any closer.

“Still working through a lot of challenges with the government,” Musk said in a tweet early Thursday in Asia, responding to a user who inquired whether there was an update on Tesla’s launch in the Southeast Asian nation.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration have been in talks for years, but disagreements over a local factory and the country’s import duties of up to 100% have resulted in an impasse. The government has asked Tesla to increase local procurement and provide precise manufacturing plans; Musk has sought lower taxes so that Tesla can begin by selling imported vehicles at a lower price in a budget-conscious market.

In October, an Indian minister stated that he had asked Tesla to avoid selling Chinese-made cars in India, instead urging the automaker to produce, sell, and export vehicles from a local factory. With a population equivalent to China, India is a potentially attractive market for EV makers, but the country’s roadways are still dominated by low-cost, no-frills cars produced by Suzuki Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co.

Other foreign players will compete with Tesla, including Mercedes-Benz, which announced Wednesday that it will launch a locally built EQS – the electric version of its flagship S-Class sedan – in India by the fourth quarter.

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