Elon Musk says Tesla is coming to India ‘as soon as humanly possible’

By Alex Stambaugh, Laura He, and Manveena Suri, CNN

Hong Kong CNN  —  Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Tuesday the company is looking to invest in India “as soon as humanly possible,” following a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York.

“[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 told reporters.

“I am confident that Tesla will be in India and will do so as soon as humanly possible,” he said, without specifying a timeline. Musk said he tentatively plans to visit India next year.

Musk’s push into the Indian market has been in the works for a long time. Back in 2017, the CEO said that Tesla (TSLA) was planning to sell cars in India as soon as that summer.

But that plan has been delayed because of Tesla’s efforts to negotiate lower import duties with local government. Musk tweeted in 2021 that Tesla wanted to enter India, “but import duties are the highest in the world by far of any large country.”

Tesla had sought to slash the duties, but the Indian government reportedly wants the company to make cars locally before considering any tax breaks, according to Reuters.

On Tuesday, Musk said he had a “fantastic meeting” with the Modi and feels “incredibly excited about the future of India.”

“[Modi] really wants to do the right thing for India. He wants to be open, he wants to be supportive to the companies. And obviously, at the same time, make sure that it accrues to India’s advantage,” Musk said.

Tesla currently has one gigafactory in Asia, which is located in Shanghai. The Shanghai factory is Tesla’s biggest car manufacturing plant outside the United States and accounted for more than half of Tesla’s global deliveries in 2022.

Last month, Musk said at an event that the company would likely pick a location for a new Tesla factory by the end of the year and that India was an interesting option, Reuters reported at the time.

Both China and India have been trying to attract global EV investment and boost the EV industry.

On Wednesday, China announced it would extend tax breaks for consumers buying new energy vehicles — which include battery electric cars, plug-in hybrids, and fuel-cell vehicles — through 2027, in its latest effort to boost sales and production in the world’s biggest EV market. The current policy allows purchase tax exemption on NEVs until the end of 2023.

The tax break is estimated to reach 520 billion yuan ($72.3 billion) from 2024 to 2027, said Xu Hongcai, vice minister of finance, at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

The move follows a State Council meeting earlier this month, during which senior officials said they would study policies to promote NEV development and optimize tax exemption.

From May 30 to June 1, Musk made his first visit to China since the pandemic and met a string of government officials to discuss EV development and Tesla’s operations in the country.

He also visited the Shanghai gigafactory, thanking the workers and saying that they make the “highest quality” Tesla cars around the world, with the “most efficient production.”

Before leaving, Musk also met Chen Jining, the Communist Party chief of Shanghai, who encouraged him to boost investment and operations and “bring more new products, new technologies and new services” to the city, according to a statement by the government.

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