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Tesla Model 3 in India: Observations and Analysis

Disclaimer: I’m in no way an auto expert, neither do I know a lot about Indian import system. Over the last couple of days I managed to read some stuff about Tesla’s plans for India and had some meaningful conversations about the same on Twitter. This is just a summary of things as I understand.

tesla-model-3-india

Elon Musk and Tesla unveiled the Model 3 – the “revolutionary” and “affordable” electric car which promises to deliver at least 215 miles of range beginning at “just” $35,000. If you were living in a cave and don’t know much about the Tesla Model 3, you can read more about that here. The point of article is not to discuss how good the car is, or why people are queuing up (quite literally) to place a pre-order for something whose production is expected to start late-2017, but to talk about something which has dominated my Twitter timeline for the past two days.

In a surprising move, Elon Musk announced that Indians can pre-order the Tesla Model 3 by paying $1000 as advance (just like other people around the world). Many people have went ahead and ‘booked’ the Model 3 without really knowing how much it’d end up costing in India. Few points to ponder:

1. Someone on Reddit estimated it to cost over Rs 70 lakh. Below is his calculation.

tesla-model-3-price-india

2. Many media publications and Twitter celebrities are taking this at face value and crying out loud against “foolish rich” Indians who have booked the Model 3 assuming it’d cost $35000 (~Rs 23 lakh) or a little above that considering the taxes.

3. But the calculation is assuming that Tesla Model 3 will be CBU (Completely Built Unit) import. But it might well be CKD (Completely Knocked Down) import which will drastically reduce the import costs.

Of course, going CKD route is not at all easy. But then, Tesla cars usually have extremely few components to break down, thanks to their intrinsic design. Kuldeep makes a solid point again.

4. That’s logical. But is Tesla serious enough about India and their opportunity here? Yes, I think so. One, Elon Musk had mentioned his desire to set up Gigafactory (battery plant) in India late last year. Two, Indian PM, Narendra Modi met with Elon Musk around same time and invited Tesla to be part of India’s mega plan to be a hub for renewable energy. Three, although Tesla added several new countries in its pre-order page, Elon Musk specifically mentioned India. More than anything else, he promised nation wide Supercharger network. They wouldn’t be spending heavily on infrastructure setup unless they have big plans for India.

5. Now, here is why CBU import doesn’t make sense. Unless they have plans to sell Model 3 in good numbers, there’s no incentive for Tesla to invest heavily on Supercharger network. If they plan to sell in good numbers, they should logically be taking the CKD route just like BMW, Mercedes, Audi and other luxury car companies.

6. Indian government is seriously pushing for e-vehicles in the country. Piyush Goyal, the Power Minister has recently said that India will aim to become a 100% e-vehicle nation by 2030. The expectation for some government subsidy isn’t far fetched.

7. Considering these points, the Tesla Model 3 might cost anywhere between 25 Lakh and 35 Lakh in India. Of course, many of these are based on assumptions, but I believe they are reasoned enough based on how the high end car business work in India.

But then, there are more variables than constants here.

  • We don’t know if rupee stays as strong (or weak) as it is now against USD when the actual delivery begins.
  • Political scenario in India can be really volatile. How’ll be the environment at that time, no one knows.
  • Tesla hasn’t clarified if they will be modifying the Model 3 for Indian road conditions which are unique in their own ways.

8. The prebook confirmation email from Tesla states that “North American deliveries will be first, followed by Europe, Asia and Pacific countries then countries with right-hand drive configurations.” This puts India in virtually the last set of countries getting the Model 3. Looking at the number of pre-orders elsewhere and past track record of Tesla, I won’t be surprised if the deliveries start beyond 2019 and in 2020 for India.

9. If any of the above assumption turns out to be false and/or things turn for worse, people pre-booking Tesla Model 3 might still not regret their decision for one simple reason.

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Blogger Meetups, Twitter Hashtags and Contests

This is a long pending post I’ve been wanting to write for a long time now and it’ll be a rant. You have been warned.

Being from Bangalore, we bloggers don’t get to attend as many press conferences and product launches as our friends from Delhi (and to a certain extent, Mumbai) do. So the companies and their PR agencies usually decide to have ‘blogger meetups’ to ‘engage’ with the city based bloggers. Usually, these meetups are nothing but pitches and promotions of the brand or the products, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What’s bad, or I must say, what bothers me is what happens during these events.

Twitter Hashtags & Contests

Over the past couple of years, blogger engagement has become synonymous with social media engagement. Rather than pitching the products or the brand to the bloggers, the PR agencies aim to get trending on twitter. Being a compulsive tweeter, I do tweet about the happenings and the product in focus most of the times, usually appended with a hashtag. The whole purpose of using hashtags on twitter is to provide quick access to all tweets from tweeple attending an event to those who missed out, but interested in knowing what’s happening.

Problem arises when these agencies announce a contest associated with twitter & hashtags. More often than not, the contest is to tweet as much as possible by including the official hashtag. As you’d expect, it ends up being spammed left and right, without adding any value whatsoever. Below is a snapshot of one such contest. I’ve deliberately removed the hashtag, twitter handles and display pics, as my issue is not against a particular brand or a PR agency or a person.

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The hashtag might end up trending for a short while, but I don’t think it will ever help the company in a positive way. Anyone and anything getting associated with spamming cannot help a brand in the long run.

Blogger meetups vs Tweetups

From what I’ve seen, at least in Bangalore, there is no clear cut distinction between bloggers and social media enthusiasts. Yes, there are cases where the two overlap, but as a host, you should clearly know whom you are inviting. I’ve been to many ‘blogger meetups’ over the past 5 years, but sadly (and I’m sorry to say this), most of them are dominated by those who aren’t active in the blogosphere, but only turn up for those stupid twitter spamming contests, free food, free booze and free gifts.

Yes, some of them, in PR terms, are ‘influential’, but in what way? Why not simply call it a tweetup? At least it will help someone like me to decide if I should bother to attend the event or not.

Last evening, I attended a couple of these events. One was called a bloggers meet and another claimed to be an interaction event in the backdrop of a launch which happened earlier this week. The bloggers meet was the usual twitter spamming contest driven event, while the other one was truly an interaction event devoid of hashtags and contests. No need to say which one I enjoyed to be part with. Though both the events had the same set of attendees, the same people were so much more fun, engaging and knowledgable in the latter event.

The brand and products in both these events were truly worth talking about, but sadly one ended up being associated with spam.

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Buy Nexus 7 in India

Google’s Nexus 7, which is currently on sale in US and few other countries is yet to be launched in India. Whether it makes sense to buy Nexus 7 outside US or not, if you are in the market for a relatively cheap android tablet with a great hardware, you can get one in India, thanks to some sellers on Indiatimes shopping, ebay.in and Tradus.com.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, the seller is same on all the three sites. Still the price varies for some reason.

Will you get warranty for Nexus 7 when you buy from any of these e-commerce sites? The seller confirms that.

Warranty : 1 Year Manufacturer Warranty

But wait! That’s a blatant lie. Asus India has confirmed that they won’t be providing any support to Nexus 7 (as yet), which makes sense considering they are yet to launch the tablet in India. Looking at the history of Nexus devices, the chances of seeing Nexus 7 launched here is pretty low. But I cannot digest how these e-com sites get away by lying on your face.