Nitin Gadkari asserts India won’t adopt driverless cars under his leadership

In a recent statement, Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, firmly declared that India has no plans to embrace the era of driverless cars. This proclamation comes at a time when the global automotive landscape, particularly in the United States and Europe, is witnessing a surge in the adoption of autonomous vehicles. In this article, we delve into the intricacies of Gadkari’s stance, the potential impact on employment, and the dynamics surrounding Tesla’s endeavors to penetrate the Indian automobile market.

The Employment Conundrum

Gadkari, in no uncertain terms, emphasized that the introduction of driverless cars in India could result in a significant decline in employment for drivers. According to him, such a move could potentially strip away jobs from approximately 70-80 lakh individuals, creating widespread chaos. This assertion raises pertinent questions about the delicate balance between technological advancement and the preservation of employment opportunities in a country with a vast workforce reliant on the automotive industry.

Tesla’s Aspiration for the Indian Market

While Gadkari stands firm on the driverless car issue, he welcomes Tesla into the Indian automobile industry. However, with a caveat – the expectation that Tesla not only sells but also manufactures its cars within the Indian borders. This comes in light of Tesla’s interest in the Indian market and ongoing discussions with government officials regarding import duties and potential local production.

Tesla’s Dilemma: Manufacturing in India

Gadkari’s stipulation that Tesla should manufacture its cars in India echoes the broader sentiment of boosting local manufacturing and aligning with the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. The intricacies of manufacturing, coupled with the demand for localized production, present a challenge for Tesla. The company’s approach of manufacturing in China and selling in India may not align with the expectations set by the Union Minister.

Government’s Stance on Electric Vehicles

The government’s recent announcement in Parliament regarding the absence of proposals for exemptions from local value addition costs or subsidies on import duties for electric vehicles adds another layer to Tesla’s challenges in the Indian market. This revelation is seen as a setback for Tesla, the electric vehicle (EV) giant from the United States, which has been eyeing India as a potentially lucrative market.

The Impact of Electric Vehicles on the Automobile Trade

Contrary to concerns about the decline in employment due to driverless cars, Gadkari dismisses the notion that the rise of electric vehicles will negatively impact the trade of traditional petrol and diesel vehicles. He asserts that the decreasing prices of lithium-ion batteries in the international market will soon lead to a convergence in pricing between EVs and conventional vehicles.

The Price Evolution of Lithium-Ion Batteries

Gadkari highlights the pivotal role of the declining cost of lithium-ion batteries in shaping the future landscape of electric vehicles. Notably, he mentions the shift from $150 per kWh to the current $115 per kWh and foresees the possibility of it dropping below $100 per kWh in the near future. This, according to Gadkari, will be a game-changer, aligning the pricing of electric vehicles with that of traditional petrol and diesel counterparts.

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