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NEW DELHI : Electric cars from Tesla Inc. may soon be on Indian roads, with the Union transport ministry approving four of its models for introduction in the country. The ministry’s Vahan portal, however, did not identify the models that received the nod.

All automobile manufacturers, both Indian and foreign, need to get their vehicles locally certified before a formal launch.

Tesla last year set up its Indian unit, Tesla India Motors and Energy Pvt. Ltd, marking its intention for an entry into its potential growth market for electric cars. The California-based company has also started hiring senior executives to prepare the ground for a possible launch.

“Tesla has completed homologation and received approval for 4 of its vehicle variants in India. While we don’t have any conformation on names as yet, these are probably Model 3 and Model 4 variants," Tesla Fan Club India tweeted.

The approval does not necessarily imply an immediate launch. The Elon Musk-led company has been asking India for a cut in import duty on electric vehicles and related parts as it is expected to initially import its vehicles as fully built units.

Tesla co-founder and chief executive Musk said last year that the company will enter India in 2021. “Next year for sure," he said, while replying to a query on Twitter. Earlier, he also said high taxes on imported electric vehicles in India is hindering Tesla’s plan to sell its products here.

India levies import duty as high as 100% on completely built vehicles. Those assembled from imported knocked-down kits attract a lower tax. Global automakers such as Tesla and Hyundai have been urging the government to reduce the import duty to create a thriving market for electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, premium vehicle makers such as Mercedes Benz and Audi have already launched their electric vehicles in India by importing them as fully built units.

The Modi administration has been pushing for local development and manufacturing of electric vehicles to reduce rampant pollution and cut dependence on costly oil imports. This has led the government to frame a production-linked incentive scheme for advanced chemistry cell batteries to lower the cost of electric vehicles and develop India as a hub for new technology products.

The government has also extended the second phase of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicle (FAME) scheme by two years to 31 March 2024 to push sales of electric vehicles.

The Department of Heavy Industries also announced a 50% increase in incentives for electric two-wheelers to 15,000 per kilowatt-hour from 10,000 per kWh. According to new rules, the cap on incentives will be limited to 40% of the total price compared to the earlier cap of 20%. The ministry of heavy industries has also mandated Energy Efficiency Services Ltd to procure 300,000 electric three-wheelers for use by various authorities.

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