A Twitter poll reveals some serious anticipation regarding Tesla’s possible plans for India, and it leaves Siddharth in awe of the sheer awareness and aspiration of the Indian consumer.
A single tweet by Elon Musk, the man behind the Tesla phenomenon, is enough to send us all into a spin. Of course, I’m referring to any reference by Mr Musk to either his existing or upcoming products, or indeed a plan to bring the brand to India. There has been much talk about how Tesla feels India’s policy will not suit a profitable brand entry here. There are many a whisper also about how there could be an agreement between the government and Tesla on certain incentives to encourage this new-age car company to set up some form of operations in India. So, basically, you mention Tesla or the Model 3 and it immediately gets you a lot of attention.
But, all along I thought I was being a bit unfair – buying into all this perceived excitement over products that are niche and premium. So, the other day, I decided to put this to the test on social media (of course!), and conducted a poll of my own. I asked which brand’s imminent entry to India most excited people – China’s SAIC, with its MG brand of cars, PSA Peugeot-Citroen (which may choose one of those brands, or even Opel, for India), or Tesla. As unscientific as it may be, the findings began to surprise me. I set the duration for 3 days, and within the first 24 hours saw a pattern – Tesla had 81% of the votes. Wow – 81 per cent!
Now I thought that was very surprising, despite knowing how much hype surrounds the brand. And so I put out an additional comment saying how surprised I was that most people are voting for a car brand that they would probably never buy or could even afford. And that’s true, after all – even in its most successful markets, Tesla remains a niche player. But, once I put out that tweet, the comments that I got were the bigger surprise. One user named Nishant replied, “It’s never about affordability, it’s about brands that excite people. Tesla is definitely such a brand.” Another named Ashwin said, “In 1983, the most exciting car was a Maruti 800 – all wanted to buy it, but very few could afford. From then to now, the prospect of Tesla is exciting.” Many replies echoed one sentiment in particular: “Eventually it will be (affordable), hopefully! That’s the future, it’s greener, and hence I voted for Tesla,” as Harshad said. And George added, “We still aspire to drive green one day. What if they decide to locally manufacture the Model 3 and let us lease it?”
I chose to highlight these actual tweets to drive home the point. Sure, there were plenty who expressed their views on how Tesla would be impractical, expensive, and that India lacks any charging infrastructure that electric cars need – as also a viable horizon for the same. Many also talked about how the government needs to reduce duties to allow such cars in. But, eventually, after allowing polling to carry on for 72 hours, the final tally was this: MG/SAIC – 3%, PSA Peugeot-Citroen – 18%, and Tesla ended up with 79% of the votes.
I stand in awe of the sheer awareness and aspiration of the Indian consumer – as I always have – and also humbled by her or his opinions and desires. So, Mr Musk (and indeed Mr Modi), please do expedite the arrival of the electrics from this American brand. And perhaps accelerate the era of the electrics as a result – in line with the government’s rather ambitious target of having only electric cars on Indian roads by 2030.