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Musk in India in April to meet Modi; investment plan announcement likely

The meeting between the two leaders will coincide with India’s general elections beginning April 19 and could bolster the Indian PM’s business-friendly image.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi meets Tesla CEO Elon Musk in New York, US, on Tuesday, June 20, 2023. (Picture: Twitter account of Modi/@NarendraModi)

By: Shubham Ghosh

ELON Musk, the chief of Tesla, has announced his upcoming visit to India to meet prime minister Narendra Modi and is likely to disclose his plans about investment and establishing a factory in the South Asian nation, Reuters reported citing two informed sources.

After the Reuters report came out, the billionaire entrepreneur wrote on social media platform X, which he also owns, “Looking forward to meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India!”

The meeting is scheduled to take place during the week of April 22 in New Delhi. The sources, preferring anonymity, mentioned that the Tesla chief will also unveil his India plans separately.

Neither Modi’s office nor Tesla responded to requests for comment, and there is a possibility of alterations to Musk’s final agenda for the trip, Reuters added.

Read: Elon Musk’s Tesla to scout sites in India for $3 billion EV plant: report

Musk’s visit coincides with India’s upcoming two-month-long election, commencing on April 19, with Modi looking strong for a potential third-term victory.

An investment announcement by the American electric vehicle (EV)-making giant amidst the election period would enhance Modi’s image for being business-friendly.

Read: Musk comes to rescue of Indian Canadian doctor asked to pay $300k legal bill

The prime minister has actively pursued foreign companies to establish manufacturing operations in India, aiming to generate employment opportunities.

According to one of the sources, the Tesla CEO will be accompanied by other executives during his visit.

Musk and Modi had met in New York in June last year when the Indian leader was on an official visit to the US.

Over the following months, Tesla advocated for India to reduce import taxes on EVs as it deliberated on establishing a factory in the country. India recently introduced a new EV policy, reducing import taxes from 100 per cent to 15 per cent on certain models if the manufacturer invests a minimum of $500 million and establishes a factory.

In an earlier report, Reuters had reported that Tesla officials are expected to visit India in April to look at sites to set up a manufacturing plant that would require investment worth about $2 billion.

Sources have revealed that Tesla has initiated production of right-hand drive vehicles at its German facility, with plans to export them to India later in the year. Elon Musk remarked this week on X that “India should have electric cars like every other country has electric cars. It’s a natural progression to provide Tesla electric vehicles in India”.

Tesla’s expansion into the Indian market coincides with a slowdown in electric vehicle (EV) demand in its primary American and Chinese markets, coupled with increasing competition from Chinese automakers. The company reported a decline in first-quarter deliveries, falling short of analyst predictions.

Although India’s EV market is currently small, it is experiencing growth and is primarily dominated by local carmaker Tata Motors. EVs accounted for just two per cent of total car sales in the world’s fourth-largest automotive industry in 2023, but the government aims to increase this to 30 per cent by 2030.

(With Reuters inputs)

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