• Saturday, May 18, 2024


Elon Musk puts off India trip, to visit later this year

Tesla founder Elon Musk (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for TIME)

By: Shajil Kumar

TECH billionaire Elon Musk postponed a planned trip to India where he was to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, citing obligations at his Tesla automaker and saying he aimed to reschedule the visit for later this year.

“Unfortunately, very heavy Tesla obligations require that the visit to India be delayed, but I do very much look forward to visiting later this year,” Musk posted on his X social media platform.

Reuters reported the postponement on Saturday, citing four people familiar with the matter. The trip was to have included the announcement of plans for the electric vehicle (EV) maker to enter the South Asian market, Reuters has reported.

The news came a day after Musk’s electric car company announced the recall of nearly 4,000 Cybertruck vehicles owing to an acceleration pedal defect that increased crash risks.

The CEO and the prime minister are both at critical junctures.

Tesla could have used the India announcement to try to reassure investors after months of share-price declines and the news on April 15 that it would lay off more than 10 per cent of its global workforce.

Musk is expected to face tough questions from analysts when Tesla announces quarterly results on Tuesday about falling sales, rising competition from Chinese EV makers, and the fate of key future Tesla products.

Reuters reported on April 5 that Tesla had halted development of its long-awaited affordable EV, often called the Model 2. Musk posted that “Reuters is lying” after the report, without citing any inaccuracies. He has not spoken further about the model, leaving investors clamouring for clarity.

Rohan Patel, a Tesla public policy executive who, according to sources, was one of those leading the company’s India entry plans, also resigned this week.

Musk would have arrived on Sunday, two days after the start of India’s nation election, in which Modi is forecast to win a rare third term. Modi wants to highlight progress toward promises of making India a global manufacturing hub.

After Reuters reported Musk’s India trip plans on April 10, he posted on X that he was “Looking forward to meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India!”

In New Delhi, Musk was expected to announce an investment of $2 billion (£1.62bn) to $3 bn (£2.43bn) , mainly to build a factory in India, after the government announced a policy lowering high tariffs on imported cars if companies invest locally, Reuters has reported.

Tesla was reported to be scouting factory locations in India after the government last month cut import taxes on electric vehicles for global automakers that committed to invest $500 million (£404mn) and to start local production within three years.

The policy also allows companies to import up to 8,000 electric vehicles priced at $35,000 (£28,296.5) or higher every year with greatly reduced import duties.

Indian media reported that Tesla might first import cars from its Berlin factory until it makes a final decision on where to set up a production line.

He was also expected to meet executives from several space startups in New Delhi. Musk is awaiting Indian government regulatory approvals to begin offering his Starlink satellite broadband services in the world’s most populous country.

Musk’s present business interest in India is limited to X, formerly known as Twitter. He has faced questions from free speech activists over his social media platform reportedly caving in to the Indian government’s demands to take down critical posts.

Musk, who has described himself as a Modi fan, last visited India in 2007. (Agencies)


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