Musk to meet Modi in India; sources say announcement on investment likely

By Thomson Reuters Apr 10, 2024 | 1:37 PM

By Aditya Kalra and Aditi Shah

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -Tesla chief Elon Musk said he will visit India to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and two sources told Reuters the billionaire entrepreneur is expected to make an announcement on investment and a factory in the country.

“Looking forward to meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India!”, he said in a post on X after Reuters first reported details of Musk’s planned India visit this month.

The billionaire will meet Modi in the week of April 22 in New Delhi, and will separately make an announcement about his India plans, said the two sources, who declined to be named as the trip details are confidential.

Modi’s office and Tesla did not respond to requests for comment. Musk’s final India trip agenda could still change.

Musk would be visiting India just as it heads into a two-month-long election with nearly a billion voters, starting April 19, in which Modi is widely seen winning a rare third term.

A Tesla investment announcement during the election would bolster the business-friendly credentials of Modi, who has for years courted foreign companies to set up manufacturing operations in India and create jobs.

The Tesla CEO will be accompanied by other executives during his visit, said the first source.

Musk and Modi last met in New York in June, and Tesla for months lobbied India to lower import taxes on electric vehicles while it weighed up a factory there. India last month unveiled a new EV policy lowering import taxes to 15% from 100% on some models if a manufacturer invests at least $500 million and sets up a factory too.

Reuters has previously reported that Tesla officials are expected to visit India this month to look at sites for a manufacturing plant that would require an investment of about $2 billion.

Tesla has also begun production of right-hand drive cars at its German plant for export to India later this year, sources have said.

Musk said 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 push into India comes as slowing EV demand in its main U.S. and Chinese markets coincides with intensifying competition from Chinese automakers. Tesla reported a drop in first-quarter deliveries that missed analyst estimates.

India’s EV market is small but growing and dominated by local carmaker Tata Motors. EVs made up just 2% of total car sales in 2023. The government is targeting 30% by 2030.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Aditi Shah; additional reporting by Aftab Ahmed ,Shivangi Acharya and Urvi Dugar; editing by Jason Neely, Mark Potter and Maju Samuel)