Prime Minister Modi Meets Elon Musk, Discusses Tesla's Potential Entry into India
New York, June 21, 2023 - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on his highly anticipated three-day state visit to the United States, with one of the key highlights being a meeting with Tesla CEO and Twitter owner, Elon Musk. The encounter took place today, as both leaders expressed their admiration for each other and discussed the potential for Tesla's entry into the Indian market.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Elon Musk shared his enthusiasm for India's future, stating, "I'm a fan of Modi... I think India has more promise than any large country in the world." Musk further recalled the Prime Minister's visit to Tesla's factory in California back in 2015, emphasizing their existing relationship. The Tesla chief expressed confidence in Tesla's eventual presence in India, asserting that the company would make its way to the country "as soon as humanly possible."
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Musk confirmed Tesla's interest in the Indian market, stating, "Absolutely." He revealed that Tesla is actively considering potential locations for a manufacturing base in India, with plans to finalize the decision by the end of this year. The tech entrepreneur expressed his gratitude to Prime Minister Modi for his support and looked forward to making an announcement in the near future.
During his visit, Prime Minister Modi is engaging with a diverse group of thought leaders from various fields. Apart from Elon Musk, Modi met author Robert Thurman, statistician Nicholas Nassim Taleb, Indian-American singer Falu Shah, author and researcher Jeff Smith, former US trade representative Michael Froman, diplomat Daniel Russel, and defense expert Elbridge Colby. These interactions reflect the Prime Minister's commitment to fostering relationships with influential figures across different sectors.
India's potential as a sustainable energy market was a key topic of discussion between Modi and Musk. The Tesla CEO acknowledged India's strong potential for solar power, stationary battery packs, electric vehicles, and even the introduction of SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet service. Tesla executives had previously visited India and held talks with Indian bureaucrats and ministers to explore the establishment of a manufacturing base for cars and batteries.
Tesla's interest in India comes at a time when US companies are seeking alternatives to China as a manufacturing hub due to escalating tensions between the two countries. While Tesla temporarily put its India entry plans on hold last year due to high import tax structures, the recent developments indicate renewed efforts to make inroads into the Indian market.
Prime Minister Modi's meeting with Elon Musk holds significance, particularly in the context of recent controversies surrounding Twitter in India. The encounter occurred shortly after Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey accused India of threatening to shut down the platform for non-compliance with content takedown orders during the 2020-2021 protests. However, Musk has refrained from commenting on the matter.
Prime Minister Modi's visit to the United States includes various engagements, such as addressing a joint session of the US Congress, meetings with business leaders and Indian expatriates, and a state dinner at the White House hosted by US President Joe Biden. The visit underscores the strong alliance between India and the United States and seeks to further strengthen bilateral ties in multiple areas.