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Tesla’s EVs: Elon Musk postpones next week’s India visit to “later this year”

Tesla’s EVs: Elon Musk postpones next week’s India visit to “later this year”

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: Tesla chief Elon Musk, who was expected to announce an investment of around USD 3 billion to manufacture his electric vehicles and start satellite broadband services in India, has postponed his next week’s visit to the South Asian country to “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 said in a post on X on Saturday.

Tesla will announce its first-quarter results on Tuesday and Musk has an earnings call with analysts. According to industry experts, he has to handle a lot of questions about the performance of the company, which in the recent past has not been seen as investor-friendly. The company’s shares have declined 40 percent so far. On Friday also, the Tesla shares closed at USD 147.05 apiece, down 1.92 percent from the previous close.

During his April 21-22 visit to India, Musk was likely to meet India’s top space technology entrepreneurs in Delhi, as also Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is currently crisscrossing states for election rallies seeking a third term. Musk has supported India’s permanent membership of the UN Security Council.

His satellite broadband service provider Starlink has already received assurances from India that it will be able to start operating by the third quarter of this year, the media reported on Saturday.

Tesla has been trying to break into India for years but high import taxes were a deterrent, something Musk has pointed out repeatedly. India last month lowered import taxes on EVs from foreign carmakers that pledged to invest at least Rs. 41.5 billion (USD 497 million) and start EV production from a local factory within three years.

While Starlink’s services are available in the US, much of European and Asian countries such as Japan, Malaysia, and the Philippines, China has not approved it so far. Beijing claimed SpaceX was an arm of the Pentagon.

That’s why winning over India — the only other giant market with a billion-plus population — is especially important for SpaceX.

Starlink operations would also mark the deepening of the security partnership between India and the US. The two countries, along with Japan and Australia, cooperate in the Quad (the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue), a Washington DC-led effort to counter China’s influence.

India in February eased foreign direct investment (FDI) rules for the space sector allowing companies to invest in manufacturers of satellites and rockets without requiring government approvals.

Starlink will still need to resolve issues related to security approvals, spectrum allocation, and pricing plans before it starts operating in India. It can give competition to the Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd and Sunil Mittal-backed OneWeb, a subsidiary of Eutelsat Communications SACA.

The SpaceX unit has more than 5,600 active satellites in low-Earth orbit, with plans to launch tens of thousands more, as it aims to rival telecom providers that use larger and higher orbit satellites that hover over one location.


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