Musk meets Modi and hints at 'significant' Tesla investment in India

In addition to Tesla's EVs, the meeting also opened doors for Musk's other ventures such as SpaceX's Starlink.
Ameya Paleja
Elon Musk met Indian PM Narendra Modi on his three-day visit to the US.
Elon Musk met Indian PM Narendra Modi on his three-day visit to the US.

Narendra Modi/Twitter  

Electric vehicle maker Tesla is mooting "significant" investments as it looks to set up a manufacturing base in India, CEO Elon Musk said after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a three-day visit to the US, Reuters reported.

Watch Musk speaking to the press briefly after his meeting with Modi:

Tesla's decision to enter one of the biggest markets for electric vehicles has been on hold for the past year after the company and officials in India could not come to an agreement over the sourcing of vehicles. The latter insisted that the cars be made locally, while Tesla wanted to export cars to the market first to test demand.

Tesla had also been seeking a reduction in import duties for fully electric cars in the country. India currently applies a 60 percent duty for vehicles priced below US$40,000 and 100 percent for those priced above this number. With officials denying this concession, Tesla had shelved its plans to enter the Indian market. However, matters seemed to have changed after a meeting between the Indian PM and Elon Musk.

Musk meets Modi

Musk met Modi on the sidelines of the latter's three-day state visit to the US aimed at improving the bilateral relationship between the countries amidst the worsening tensions with China.

The Indian Prime Minister tweeted a photo with Musk hours after the meeting.

Musk had good things to say about the Indian PM and even called himself "a fan", while also adding that India had more promise than any other large country in the world, BBC reported.

Musk's statements come closely on the heels of former Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, accusing the Indian government of threatening to shut down the social media site for not complying with content takedown requests.

Musk, who until recently, held the position of CEO at Twitter, told reporters that Twitter had no other choice but to obey local governments or else risk shutting down, Reuters said in its report.

Tesla, SpaceX to Woo Indian Customers

Ahead of the Musk-Modi meeting, Tesla executives visited India last month as they look to reduce their dependence on China for manufacturing their EV vehicles. France, South Korea, as well as Indonesia, were contenders to be the likely destination for a Tesla factory.

After the meeting, Musk said that Tesla is looking to make "significant investments" in India as a destination to not only make its electric cars but also battery packs. Musk also added that the company was trying to figure out the right timing for the move. He said that Tesla would be in India "as soon as humanly possible".

In addition to Tesla's EVs, the meeting has also opened doors for Musk's other ventures such as solar and energy storage, and satellite internet from SpaceX. Musk's Starlink formally opened shop in India in 2021 but needs to get through the regulatory hoop to begin offering services in the country. The service could help provide internet connections in remote locations that do not have broadband access.

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