As Elon Musk’s Tesla continue to face business uncertainty in India, more executives are leaving the company.
Three executives of the original 12-member India Tesla team have departed the US-based electric carmaker since country policy head Manuj Khurana quit in June, as per a report in Economic Times, citing people close to the matter.
Among the latest to leave Tesla India team are its head of charging Nishant, legal head Nitika Chhabra, and sales executive Ankit Kesarwani.
“Currently, the company’s India unit is in its skeletal form,” one of the people cited said.
The continued exodus of executives signals the waning interest of the Elon Musk-led company in the Indian market, the report stated another person as saying.
Tesla in June had elevated its HR head Chithra Thomas as additional director of its India entity, according to regulatory filings with the corporate affairs ministry (MCA).
Thomas was made the additional director after Prashanth Menon, who was heading the Indian market, relocated out of the country.
The Elon Musk-led Tesla has often urged the Indian government to reduce import duties for electric vehicles (EVs), which can go up to 100%, but with little success.
Tesla’s plan to enter the country has been on hold since 2019 as India levies a 60% import duty on EVs priced at $40,000 or lower. It also levies a 100% duty on EVs priced at more than $40,000.
Last year, Tesla had written to the Road Ministry stating that the effective import tariff of 110%on cars with customs value above $40,000, is ‘prohibitive’ to zero-emission vehicles. The US firm urged the Centre to reduce the import duty on electric cars to 40%, irrespective of the customs value, and withdraw the additional 10% surcharge.
Musk has tweeted in the past that he would prefer to sell cars in India first before setting up a manufacturing plant in the country.
Tesla was widely expected to sell its most affordable car, Model 3, in India, but the high import duties would put the car in the luxury category, out of reach of the masses as it may cost around Rs 60-70 lakh in India.
If the US company decides to bring in its more expensive Model S, or its luxury SUV Model X – both are expected to cost around Rs 1.5 crore – that might come in as CBUs.