Tesla’s India lobbyist quits company after India plans abandoned

Earlier last month we told you that Elon Musk-led Tesla Inc. reportedly ordered its Indian team to commence the work for Middle Eastern and larger Asia-Pacific (APAC) markets which suggested that the company had abandoned its plans for entering India. Well, recently it was also reported that one of the top executives of the Tesla India subsidiary has now resigned from the company.

Tesla’s India lobbyist quits company after India plans abandoned


Individuals close to the situation reported that Manuj Khurana, policy and business development executive at Tesla in India, a top official who was directing Tesla’s lobbying campaign in India has quit the organisation. This move came after Tesla announced its plans to pull back from the Indian market and shift its focus to Middle Eastern and Asia-Pacific markets.

For more than a year, Khurana lobbied the Indian government to reduce the import duty on electric vehicles from as high as 100% to 40%, claiming that this would allow Tesla to test the market with imports from its manufacturing centres like China before investing in a plant. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration asked that Tesla first commits to producing cars in India before making any concessions. Following this Tesla placed its ambitions to sell vehicles in India on hold, and transferred members of its domestic staff, and abandoned its hunt for showroom space due to the standstill in discussions.

Khurana, who was Tesla India’s first recruit, responsible for public policy and business development, relocated to California in April 2022 to take up a product role. And the IIM Bengaluru alumni also updated this information on his LinkedIn profile. However, for this recent resignation, neither Khurana nor Tesla has responded with any details.

Tesla Inc. has been urging the Indian government to decrease the heavy import charges on EVs since 2019, as previously reported on Cartoq, but the Indian government has been resolute about doing so. In India, EVs costing less than USD 40,000 are now subject to a 60% import duty. Electric vehicles costing more than USD 40,000, on the other hand, are subject to a 100 percent import charge. The same issue applies to automobiles with internal combustion engines that are brought into the nation. Along with Tesla, it was also claimed that Audi lobbied the Indian government to lower the high tariffs.

The Indian team of Tesla is headed by the US-based Indian executive Prashanth Menon. Meanwhile, other key executives in the Tesla India team include Chitra Thomas, Nitika Chabbra, Sandeep Pannu, Nithin George Thomas, Vaibhav Taneja, Venkat Sreeram and David Feinstein. Out of these, Menon, Taneja, and Feinstein have all previously worked for Tesla in the United States, while others are new personnel hired particularly for Tesla India.

Tesla began accepting orders for the Model 3 in India a few years ago, and Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma was one of the first few to pay the $1,000 booking fee and reserve a vehicle. However, now it seems like Tesla will not be making its debut in the country anytime soon.