All it takes for the automobile loving social media netizens in India to get fired up these days is any mention of Tesla's arrival. And if it comes from the company's founder Elon Musk, well then excitement reaches fever pitch! There has been much anticipation around Tesla's impending arrival into India - as we have been consistently reporting here on carandbike. Off late there is talk about how Tesla feels India's current taxation policy would not suit a profitable brand entry here. There are also some murmurs about how there could be an agreement between the government and Tesla on certain incentives to encourage the American electric car company to set up some operations in India. Now all along I thought I was being a bit unfair - buying into all this perceived excitement over products that are niche and premium - for no real reason.
So earlier this month, I figured I may as well test this out for myself - to see if its only we in the media who are hyping this brand, or is there more to it? And so I put this to the test on social media - where else can you get a dipstick on what people may be thinking, right? So as unscientific as it may have been, I conducted a poll on twitter.PSA Peugeot-Citroen (which may also choose to go with recently acquired Opel for India), or Tesla of course. The results of this poll began to surprise me. I set the duration for 3 days, and within the first 24 hours saw a pattern - Tesla had a staggering 81% of the votes.
Now I thought that was very surprising, despite knowing how much hype surrounds the brand. And so put out an additional tweet saying how surprised I was that most people are voting for a car brand that they would probably never buy or could even afford. The government has also set India a rather ambitious target of having only electric cars on our roads by 2030.
After all, this is indeed very true even in Tesla's most successful markets, where too it is a niche player. But once I put out that tweet the comments 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, but very few could afford.— Siddharth V Patankar (@sidpatankar) June 15, 2017
From there to here, now Tesla is exciting." Many replies echoed one sentiment in particular - "Eventually will be (affordable) hopefully! That's the future, and greener, hence I voted for Tesla." as Harshad said. And George further said, "We still aspire to drive green one day. What if they decide to locally manufacture the Model3 and let us lease it?" Sure there were also many who said Tesla would be impractical, expensive, and also commented on how India lacks any charging infrastructure that electric cars need. 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! The reason I decided to share all of this with you and in fact quote the actual tweets too, was to drive home the point. I am in sheer awe of the awareness and aspiration of the Indian consumer - as I always have been. So lets us hope their dreams are met - Mr Musk, and should I also add Mr Prime Minister, hope you are listening!