Elon Musk-led Tesla may well look at the IT city Bengaluru as a possible investment destination to set up a vehicle manufacturing unit, if the Karnataka government's bid to woo him to the State works. Soon after the Covid-19 related lockdowns, the Karnataka government has gone on an overdrive to get international investors to expand to Karnataka and bring in more investments - and thus jobs - to the State.
As part of this outreach to big guns in every sector, Tesla too was tapped to set up a gigafactory - a manufacturing unit for solar panels and batteries - in Bengaluru. Tesla, arguably the world's biggest disruptor in the electric vehicle space, is currently setting up a gigafactory in Germany.
The company is valued at over $386 Billion, double the valuation of its nearest rival Toyota. Toyota already has a car manufacturing plant in Bidadi, a Bengaluru suburb, where it is in a joint venture with Kirloskar.
On Twitter, its CEO Elon Musk said "next year for sure," in reply to a question by a Tesla fan club asking when will Tesla's India entry would materialise. Tesla Club India, a Twitter handle that claims it wants to push for greater EV and solar awareness in India, had asked Musk whether there is any progress on this.
Musk's reply that Tesla would "for sure" enter India next year has led to speculation on which state or city he may zero in on, for his plans. Even as government officials confirmed that they have approached the company as part of its campaign to draw investments, it led to upbeat denizens get into a social media race to build pressure on other governments to woo Tesla on their own.
While some asked Tamil Nadu chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswamy to "please try to get Tesla automobile plant in Chennai (TN has long been known for its auto sector investments, Chennai even sometimes referred to as the Detroit of India), there were others asking Telangana Industry Minister KT Rama Rao why he wasn't pitching Telangana as a potential destination.
"Karnataka state is keen on Tesla to have R&D Centre, KTR garu, I hope it's not too late for you to make a pitch for Tesla on behalf of Telangana state," said one Hyderabad citizen on Twitter.
Another citizen directly tweeted to Musk, asking him if he has received any propositions from Telangana. The Karnataka government, meanwhile, said talks are still preliminary, and other aspects such as land identification are yet to take off.
"We had reached out to several corporates to understand their expansion requirements. And what we are doing with Tesla is also on the same lines," said a senior bureaucrat who is in the core team leading the efforts.
"We have suggested it and I believe they are in the process of making up their minds," he added. The government functionaries shied away from talking specifics, as they were worried it may backfire on the project.