By Munsif Vengattil and Aditya Kalra
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Tesla Inc is “serious” about its plans to establish a manufacturing base in India, the country’s deputy minister for technology told Reuters in an interview on Friday, a day after meeting senior executives of the electric vehicle maker.
The Elon Musk led U.S. automaker held talks with Indian officials this week on various topics including incentives for car and battery manufacturing, Reuters reported on Thursday, as Tesla looks anew at entering the Indian market.
“They are very seriously looking at India as a production and innovation base,” Rajeev Chandrasekhar said in the first public comment by an Indian government official on the talks.
“We have signalled to them that the government of India is working together (and) will certainly make whatever ambitions they have or investment objective they have in India a success,” said Chandrasekhar, who is one of the highest-ranking officials in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration.
Tesla proposed setting up a factory in India to build electric vehicles (EVs) and is also looking at manufacturing EV batteries, Reuters reported.
Asked if talks with Tesla included more than just making vehicles, Chandrasekhar said “you don’t talk about cars alone” when such discussions take place.
“You talk about cars, you talk about energy, you talk about manufacturing technology. So all of that figures in the conversation. What they will want to do in India, it’s too far for me (to tell) and it’s not for me to say,” he added.
Tesla did not immediately respond to request for comment.
The discussions in India represent a shift in stance for Tesla, which said late last year it was focused on seeking lower import taxes on cars, which can be as much as 100%.
Talks became deadlocked as the government is keen for Tesla to make cars locally, while the carmaker said it wanted to export to India first so that it could test demand.
Outside the United States, Tesla has a plant in Shanghai – its largest factory worldwide – and one in Brandenburg, Germany.
(Reporting by Munsif Vengattil and Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; Additional reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Alexander Smith)