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By Hyunjoo Jin and Shivangi Acharya
SAN FRANCISCO/NEW DELHI (Reuters) -Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was pushing the car maker to make a “significant investment” in the country, adding that such an announcement was expected soon.
His comments came after a meeting with Modi on Tuesday during the Indian leader’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.
India has strong potential for a sustainable energy future including solar power, stationary battery packs and electric vehicles, Musk said, adding that he hopes to bring SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service to India as well.
“He (Modi) really cares about India because he’s pushing us to make significant investments in India, which is something we intend to do,” Musk told reporters after the meeting.
“I am confident that Tesla will be in India and will do so as soon as humanly possible.”
Later, India’s foreign ministry spokesperson tweeted saying Modi had invited Musk to “explore opportunities in India for investments in electric mobility and rapidly expanding commercial space sector.”
The South Asian country is now looking to allow some U.S. companies to initially collaborate with Indian firms for investments in its space sector, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.
India opened the way for private launches in 2020 and wants its private space companies to increase their share of the global launch market by five-fold within the next decade.
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”.
“Twitter does not have a choice but to obey local governments. If we don’t obey local government laws, we will get shut down…,” Musk told reporters on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Shivangi Acharya; Additional reporting by Aftab Ahmed, Aditya Kalra, Aditi Shah, Tanvi Mehta and Sarita Chaganti Singh; Editing by Conor Humphries, Angus MacSwan, Mark Heinrich, Cynthia Osterman and Kim Coghill)