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Elon Musk delays India visit as Tesla, SpaceX eye huge market

Elon Musk postponed a visit to India which would have included a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he must tend to pressing issues at Tesla Inc. 

“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 said in a post on X. He had been scheduled to visit for two days — April 21 and 22 — to announce plans to enter the Indian market.

The decision to postpone comes after a hectic week at Tesla. Early Sunday, Musk announced in a memo to the company’s more than 140,000 employees that he was reducing headcount by more than 10% globally. Two top executives also departed.

On Wednesday, the company said it will ask shareholders to vote again on a $56 billion compensation package for Musk that was voided by a Delaware court in January. And on Friday, Tesla recalled almost 3,900 Cybertruck pickups and cut the price of most of its cars in the US by $2,000 as sales slow and inventories rise. 

The company will also report first-quarter earnings on April 23, having already reported vehicle deliveries that missed estimates by a wide margin. The stock has fallen more than 40% this year, dropping the automaker’s market value to less than $470 billion.  

Musk’s planned India visit was critical in terms of timing for both him and Modi. India has kicked off voting for its national elections where Modi is seeking a third term, citing the nation’s economic rise. Investments from billionaires like Musk would burnish his appeal among voters. 

Musk is seeking permission for SpaceX’s Starlink to operate in what will be by far its biggest market. Starlink has already received assurances from India’s government that it will be able to start operating in the country as soon as the third quarter of this year, Bloomberg reported earlier

Tesla has also 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 pledge to invest at least 41.5 billion rupees ($497 million) and start EV production from a local factory within three years.

A sizable investment by Tesla would enable Musk to tap into India’s burgeoning electric-vehicle market and counter slowing demand for EVs elsewhere. Tesla watchers, however, would want to see action on the ground after witnessing delays in previously announced projects such as constructing a massive plant in Mexico. 

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