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Tesla chief Elon Musk postpones India visit

The reason for the delay could be Tesla's much-eyed earnings call on April 23.

Tesla Elon Musk

Tesla chief executive officer Elon Musk has postponed his visit to India citing “very heavy Tesla obligations” but reassured to visit the country later this year. During his 2-day visit on April 21 and 22, Musk was scheduled to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discuss about Tesla’s potential debut into the world’s populous country.

“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,” the billionaire wrote in a post on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

According to a report by CNBC TV18, in addition to meeting the Indian PM, Musk was also supposed to meet space startups and business leaders during his 2-day visit. The new dates of his visit are still not announced. Reportedly, the reason for the delay could be Tesla’s much-eyed earnings call on April 23. Investors are expected to seek clarity from the CEO about the company’s roadmap to tackle challenges it is facing in its primary markets of the United States and China, with declining sales and increased competition.

Amid all this, Tesla recently announced to lay off more than 10 percent of its global workforce. In the internal memo, Musk explained that the layoffs were necessary due to “rapid growth” that has led to “duplication of roles and job functions in certain areas.” As of December 2023, Tesla had 140,473 employees globally, according to its latest annual report, meaning that the layoffs would affect at least 14,000 roles.

Back to Musk’s India visit, that follows New Delhi’s recent decision to reduce import taxes on EVs, a move aimed at attracting global automakers to invest in local production. The Indian government last month announced its plans to lower import tariffs on certain electric vehicles to 15% from 100%, subject to certain conditions. With a commitment of at least $500 million and establishment of manufacturing facilities within three years, international car manufacturers can benefit from lower import tariffs.

Tesla’s interest in India is not new. In 2021, Musk cited high import duties as a barrier to entering the Indian market. However, with the recent policy changes and India’s goal of achieving 30% EV penetration by 2030, the country presents a compelling opportunity for Tesla to expand its global footprint. Apart from seeking lower taxes, Tesla previously also demanded to first test the demand in the country by selling its cars imported from its existing production hubs in the U.S. and China but the discussions ended in a deadlock.

Meanwhile, the timing of Musk’s visit would have coincided with India’s national elections, that commenced April 19. Prime Minister Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is widely expected to secure a third consecutive term, and a potential investment announcement from Tesla could bolster Modi’s image as a leader attracting foreign investment and fostering economic growth.

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