Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday said United States’ electric vehicle company Tesla will start operations in India in early 2021, reported The Indian Express. He said Tesla will first begin sales operations in India and then might look at assembly and manufacturing based on the response. Gadkari was speaking at The Indian Express’ Idea Exchange event.

Gadkari, who handles the micro, small and medium enterprises ministry as well, said that several Indian companies were also working on developing electrical vehicles that are technically as advanced as Tesla cars, but more affordable. “India is going to become a number one manufacturing hub for auto in five years,” he said.

Gadkari’s statement chalking out a timeline for the arrival of Elon Musk’s company in the country, is the first such made by a Union minister. In October, Musk, who is the chief executive officer of the company had suggested that Tesla would enter the Indian markets in 2021. In response to a tweet urging him to make the move, Musk had replied: “Next year for sure.”

Soon after, Maharashtra Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray and Industries Minister Subhash Desai held discussions with a Tesla team and invited the electric vehicle company to invest in the state.

In July, Musk had tweeted that Tesla would come to India “hopefully soon”. His remark was in reply to a Twitter user, Arvind Gupta, who said he had booked a Tesla Model 3 electric car four years ago.