By Hyunjoo Jin and Shivangi Acharya
(Reuters) -Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said on Tuesday that the electric carmaker is looking to invest in India “as soon as humanly possible.”
His comments followed a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York during Modi’s state visit to the United States. A source previously told Reuters that Musk would brief Modi on plans to set up a manufacturing base in India.
“I am confident that Tesla will be in India and will do so as soon as humanly possible,” Musk said when asked by reporters about Tesla’s plan to invest in India, adding he intended to visit the country next year.
“I would like to thank the prime minister for his support and hopefully we’ll be able to announce something in the not too distant future,” he added.
Musk said he is “a fan” of Modi and noted the prime minister visited a Tesla factory in California several years ago, according to video from Indian broadcaster ANI on Twitter.
“India has more promise than any large country in the world. He (Modi) really cares about India because he’s pushing us to make significant investments in India, which is something we intend to do. We are just trying to figure out the right timing,” Musk said.
India has strong potential for a sustainable energy future including solar power, stationary battery packs and electric vehicles, he said. Musk, also CEO of SpaceX, said it hopes to bring Starlink satellite internet service to India as well.
Executives of Tesla visited India and held talks with Indian bureaucrats and ministers last month on establishing a manufacturing base for cars and batteries in India.
Musk said last month Tesla would probably pick a location for a new factory by the end of this year, adding India was an interesting place for a new plant.
U.S. companies need to reduce reliance on China as a manufacturing base in the face of tensions between Washington and Beijing. Tesla last year shelved its India entry plans due to high import tax structures.
Modi’s meeting with Musk, who owns Twitter, 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 called the allegation an “outright lie”.
Musk has not commented on the episode, which caused a political storm in India.
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Shivangi Acharya; Additional reporting by Aftab Ahmed, Aditya Kalra, Aditi Shah; Editing by Conor Humphries, Angus MacSwan, Mark Heinrich and Cynthia Osterman)
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