Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the US on Tuesday, and said he was hoping to bring his electric vehicles and internet services to the country soon.
Musk said Modi was pushing the carmaker to make a “significant investment” in India, and added that such an announcement was expected soon.
“I am confident that Tesla will be in India and will do so as soon as humanly possible,” Musk told reporters after the meeting. “It’s quite likely that there will be a significant investment in our relationship with India in the future.”
The Tesla chief said India has strong potential for a sustainable energy future including solar power, stationary battery packs and electric vehicles.
“I’m actually incredibly excited about the future of India. I think India has more promise than any large country in the world,” Musk said.
Asked whether the Indian prime minister extended him an invite to India, Musk said “I’m tentatively planning to visit India again next year. I’m looking forward to it.”
‘Fan of Modi’
Tesla executives visited India last month and held talks with bureaucrats and ministers on establishing a manufacturing base for cars and batteries in India.
Following their meetings, Musk said Tesla would probably pick a location for a new factory by the end of this year, and that India was in the running as the location for the new plant.
The announcement came amid efforts by US companies to reduce their reliance on China as a manufacturing base following Beijing’s strict Covid lockdowns that massively disrupted supply chains and in the shadow of a growing tech rivalry between Washington and Beijing.
Tesla, however, shelved its plans to enter the Indian market last year due to high import tax structures.
Musk said Modi “wants to be supportive of new companies, but obviously at the same time ensure it accrues to India’s advantage.. which is the job.”
“I am a fan of Modi,” he added.
India has more promise than any other country in the world. PM Modi really cares about India because he is pursuing us to make significant investment in India and I am a fan of Modi: @elonmusk after meeting PM @narendramodi#ModiInUSA #HistoricStateVisit #GlobalDiplomacy… pic.twitter.com/Or9XWhVhHk
— DD News (@DDNewslive) June 20, 2023
Starlink hopes for India
The SpaceX chief also spoke about hopes to bring SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service to India as well.
“[Starlink] I think could be incredibly helpful for remote or rural villages where they may have no access to internet or internet is very expensive and slow,” Musk told reporters.
Later, India’s foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi also said Modi had invited Musk to “explore opportunities in India for investments in electric mobility and rapidly expanding commercial space sector.”
Talking business and technology!
Appreciated him for his efforts at making technology accessible and affordable in various sectors. Invited him to explore opportunities in India for investments in… pic.twitter.com/TWWfyD2wS6
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) June 21, 2023
The South Asian country is now looking to allow some US companies to initially collaborate with Indian firms for investments in its space sector, a source familiar with the matter said.
India opened the way for private launches in 2020 and wants its private space companies to increase their share of the global launch market by five-fold within the next decade.
Musk’s meeting with Modi, who is on a state visit to the United States, came days after Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey accused India of threatening to shut down the platform for not complying with content takedown orders during a 2020-2021 protest.
India had called the allegation an “outright lie”.
Responding to a question on Dorsey’s statement, Musk — who now owns the platform — said: “Twitter does not have a choice but to obey local governments. If we don’t obey local government laws, we will get shut down.
“The best we can do is foster the law in any given country. It’s impossible for us to do more than that or we will be blocked and our people will be arrested… one cannot just apply America to earth,” Musk told reporters.
“We’ll do the best to provide the freest speech that is possible under the law.”
- Reuters, with additional inputs from Vishakha Saxena