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In addition to electric vehicles, Musk said he sees potential in the country for sustainable power generation through solar and wind, and energy storage in stationary batteries. Image Credit: via Reuters

California: Tesla is likely to make a significant investment in India, CEO Elon Musk said after meeting with Narendra Modi during the Indian Prime Minister’s US 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.”

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Tesla and India revived discussions in May following a year-long stand-off. 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.

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 US and Indian companies, and reducing regulatory barriers standing in the way of trade in strategic areas, are key for Modi and US President Joe Biden’s meeting scheduled for Thursday, US 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. Earlier this month, he met 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 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.