Elon Musk on investing in India, friendship with Narendra Modi

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla and owner of Twitter, at the Viva Technology conference at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center on June 16, 2023 in Paris, France.

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he is “incredibly excited about India’s future,” adding that the country “shows more promise than any other major country in the world.”

“I’m a fan of Modi,” Musk admitted Tuesday in a video interview posted on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official YouTube page.

“He really wants to do what is right for India. He wants to be open, support new ventures, but at the same time make sure it works to India’s advantage,” the Tesla and SpaceX CEO said after their meeting in New York.

Modi and Musk last met in 2015 when the Indian Prime Minister visited Tesla’s Fremont factory in California.

The Indian Prime Minister is on his first state visit to the US, where he is expected to hold high-level talks with business leaders and business executives on defense, technology and India’s role in the Indo-Pacific.

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President Joe Biden will invite him to a dinner at the White House in Washington on Thursday, where Modi is expected to meet a number of business leaders including Apple’s Tim Cook, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella.

Modi “really cares about India because he’s pushing us to make significant investments in India, which is what we’re going to do and we’re just trying to find the right timing,” Musk said.

Investing in India

India holds great potential for Tesla, an analyst told CNBC.

“Every single US company that has a listed subsidiary in India has seen greater growth and value creation in India,” said Nilesh Shah, Managing Director of Kotak Mahindra Asset Management.

“US investors will have peace of mind that building a US-India partnership will be a real win-win situation for both countries,” he added.

Tesla’s investments would aim to support India’s sustainable energy generation primarily through solar and wind power, the electric vehicle maker’s CEO said.

“India is excellent for solar energy. The land area actually required to generate enough electricity for India is very small. I think it would probably be 1% or 2% of the land area in India, so it’s very doable.”

Other areas of investment are stationary battery packs and electric vehicles.

“India will be a promising market for Tesla as their fortunes in China will be similar to other American automakers that ended up being beaten by Chinese rivals,” Shah said.

Musk also said he’s interested in improving India’s internet connectivity and hopes to bring SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service to the South Asian country.

This can be “incredibly helpful for remote or rural villages that they may not have access to.” [the] “The internet, or the internet, is very expensive and slow,” Musk said.

Musk said Modi invited him to visit India and that it could happen as soon as next year.

During Modi’s visit to New York, he met American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, investor Ray Dalio and Grammy winner Falguni Shah.

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