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‘I am a fan of Modi’: Elon Musk on his friendship with Indian Prime Minister Modi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) meets with Elon Musk (L) in New York, United States on June 20, 2023. (Photo by Indian Press Information Bureau (PIB) / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Indian Press Information Bureau | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he is “incredibly excited about the future of India,” adding it has “more promise than any large country in the world.”

“I am a fan of Modi,” Musk admitted Tuesday in a video interview published on Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s official YouTube page. 

“He really wants to do the right thing for India. He wants to be open, he wants to be supportive of new companies, but at the same time make sure it accrues to India’s advantage,” said the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX 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 U.S., where he’s expected to hold high-level talks with leaders and business executives on defense, technology and India’s role in the Indo-Pacific.

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President Joe Biden will be hosting him at a White House dinner in Washington on Thursday, where Modi is expected to meet a slew of business leaders including Apple‘s Tim Cook, Google‘s Sundar Pichai, Microsoft‘s Satya Nadella, according to CNBC’s Seema Mody.

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

Investing in India

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

“Every single U.S. company which has a listed subsidiary in India has seen higher growth and value creation in India,” Nilesh Shah, managing director at Kotak Mahindra Asset Management, said. 

“U.S. investors will be reassured that building a U.S.-India partnership will be a true win-win situation for both countries,” he added. 

Elon Musk says Tesla intends to make a 'significant' investment in India after meeting with PM Modi

Investments from Tesla would aim to support India’s sustainable energy generation primarily through solar and wind, said the CEO of the EV maker. 

“India is great for solar. The amount of land area you actually need to generate enough electricity to power India is very small. I believe it’d be probably 1% or 2% of the land area in India, so it’s very doable.” 

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

“India will be a promising market for Tesla as their fate in China will be similar to other American car manufacturers who ended up being beaten by Chinese competitors,” Shah highlighted. 

Musk also said that he’s keen on improving India’s internet connectivity and hopes to bring SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service to the South Asian nation. 

This can be “incredibly helpful for remote or rural villages where they perhaps may have no access to [the] internet or the internet is very expensive and slow,” Musk said. 

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

Modi’s visit to New York saw him crossing paths with U.S. astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, investor Ray Dalio and Grammy Award-winner Falguni Shah.

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