Tesla looking at significant investment in India: Elon Musk after meeting PM Modi

Asked if Tesla will enter the Indian market, Elon Musk said he is planning to visit the country next year. ‘I am confident that Tesla will be in India and will do so as soon as humanly possible,” he said

June 21, 2023 04:35 am | Updated 06:28 pm IST - New York

Tesla CEO Elon Musk (left) meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 20, 2023. Videograb: YouTube/Narendra Modi

Tesla CEO Elon Musk (left) meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 20, 2023. Videograb: YouTube/Narendra Modi

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was pushing the car maker to make a “significant investment” in the country, adding that such an announcement was expected soon, according to Reuters partner ANI.

His comments followed a meeting with Mr. Modi on June 20 during the latter’s state visit to the United States. A source previously told Reuters that Mr. Musk would brief Mr. Modi on plans to set up a manufacturing base in India.

Also read: PM Modi in U.S. LIVE Updates

India has strong potential for a sustainable energy future including solar power, stationary battery packs and electric vehicles, Mr. Musk said, adding that he hopes to bring SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service to India as well.

“He [Modi] really cares about India because he’s pushing us to make significant investments in India, which is something we intend to do,” Mr. Musk told ANI.

External Affairs Ministry said Mr. Modi had invited the electric vehicle maker to explore investing in the country’s electric mobility and commercial space sectors.

Mr. Musk said, “I am confident that Tesla will be in India and will do so as soon as humanly possible.”

Mr. Musk also said he is “a fan” of Mr. Modi and he intends to visit India next year.

“Great meeting you, Elon Musk. We had multifaceted conversations on issues ranging from energy to spirituality,” Mr. Modi tweeted hours after the meeting.

Executives of Tesla visited India and held talks with Indian bureaucrats and ministers last month on establishing a manufacturing base for cars and batteries in India.

Mr. Musk said last month Tesla would probably pick a location for a new factory by the end of this year, adding India was an interesting place for a new plant.

U.S. companies need to reduce reliance on China as a manufacturing base in the face of tensions between Washington and Beijing. Tesla last year shelved its India entry plans due to high import tax structures.

PM Modi, who is visiting the U.S. from June 21-24 at the invitation of U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, is meeting over two dozen thought leaders from various walks of life, including Nobel laureates, economists, artists, scientists, scholars, entrepreneurs, academicians and health sector experts.

Besides Mr. Musk, they include astrophysicist and author Neil deGrasse Tyson, Nobel laureate economist Paul Romer, author Nicholas Nassim Taleb and investor Ray Dalio.

Prime Minister Modi met one-on-one with some of them while others met him in groups.

“Twitter doesn’t have a choice but to obey local governments’

Meanwhile, Mr. Musk also said the social media platform has no choice but to follow the local laws in any given country or risk being shut down.

Mr. Musk’s comments came in response to questions regarding Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s allegations that the Indian Government had threatened the social networking platform with raids if it did not take down critical content during the farmers’ protests against the three farm laws.

“Twitter doesn’t have a choice but to obey local governments. If we don’t obey local government laws then we will get shut down,” he told reporters after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York.

“The best we can do is to follow the laws in any given country,” adding that it is impossible for “us to do more than that”.

Mr. Musk said there were different rules and regulations for different forms of governments, and “we will do our best to provide the freest speech that is possible under the law”.

“One cannot just apply America to the earth,” Mr. Musk said.

In a recent interview, Mr. Dorsey, who quit as Twitter CEO in 2021, claimed that during his tenure as CEO, Twitter received requests from the Indian government to block accounts covering the 2020-2021 farmers’ protests and those critical of the government.

“It manifested in ways such as: ‘We will shut Twitter down in India’, which is a very large market for us; ‘We will raid the homes of your employees’, which they did; and this is India, a democratic country,” Mr. Dorsey said.

Minister of State for Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar had termed Mr. Dorsey’s claims as an “outright lie”.

Mr. Chandrasekhar said Mr. Dorsey’s Twitter regime “had a problem accepting the sovereignty of Indian law”.

“It [Twitter] behaved as if laws of India did not apply to it,” Mr. Chandrasekhar said.

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