Tesla CEO Elon Musk Plans Significant Investment in India, Expanding Beyond Electric Cars

Tesla CEO Elon Musk Plans Significant Investment in India

Tesla Inc. is likely to make a significant investment in India, CEO Elon Musk said after meeting with Narendra Modi during the Indian prime minister’s U.S. visit to promote development in the world’s most populous country.

“I’m confident that Tesla will be in India and we’ll do so as soon as humanly possible,” Musk told reporters after the meeting. “We don’t want to jump the gun on an announcement, but I think it’s quite likely that there will be a significant investment, a relationship with India.”

Tesla and India revived discussions in May following a yearlong standoff. While Tesla executives talked about the domestic sourcing of parts and incentives with government officials during a recent India visit, it didn’t culminate in a proposal to set up a plant.

Musk, who has been the frequent target of pitches from Indian officials to make electric cars locally, said he plans to visit the South Asian country in 2024.

India Aims to Attract Companies Amid China-U.S. Tensions

Leaders in Asia’s third-largest economy want to capitalize on the growing chill between Beijing and Washington by positioning India as an alternative destination for companies seeking to limit their exposure to China.

Modi’s New York visit included gatherings with potentially more than 20 high-profile individuals, according to a person familiar with the plans who asked not to be identified discussing private matters.

Critical collaboration

Collaboration on critical and emerging technologies between U.S. and Indian companies, and reducing regulatory barriers standing in the way of trade in strategic areas, are key for Modi and President Joe Biden’s meeting scheduled for Thursday, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said at an industry event in New Delhi last week.

Musk’s ventures with India could extend beyond Tesla. In addition to electric vehicles, he told reporters he sees potential in the country for sustainable power generation through solar and wind, and energy storage in stationary batteries.

He intends to revive efforts to launch SpaceX’s Starlink internet for remote Indian villages that don’t have access to broadband. Musk last year said SpaceX was waiting for government approval to roll out services after setting up a wholly owned unit in India in 2021.

Tesla didn’t respond to an email sent to the press address on its website. Representatives for India’s ministries of external affairs and road transport and highways didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Tesla factory

Musk has been scouting for the location of Tesla’s next factory. This month, he met French President Emmanuel Macron, who said France would tout its attractiveness for hosting a possible plant, but it’s for the carmaker to review prospects for projects in Europe. Italy is another suitor.

Musk Considers Other Asian Nations for Potential Tesla Plant

Musk has engaged with other Asian nations about opening a plant. In November, he said he considers South Korea a top candidate, according to the office of President Yoon Suk Yeol. Musk said he would make a decision after a comprehensive review of investment conditions, including manpower and technology.

In January, Bloomberg News reported Tesla is close to a preliminary deal to set up a factory in Indonesia that would produce as many as 1 million cars a year.

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