‘Investing in India for Tesla cars’: Poonawalla’s investment advice to Elon Musk

Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla has reached out to the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, to invest some capital in India in case his Twitter bid falls through. Poonawalla said investing in the production of Tesla cars in India would be the best investment Musk has ever made.

On Twitter, Poonawalla said: “Hey @elonmusk, in case you don’t end up buying @Twitter, look at investing some of that capital in India for large scale production of high quality @Tesla cars. I assure you this will be the best investment you’ll ever make.”

On April 26, Elon Musk finally bought a 100 percent stake in Twitter for about $44 billion, about $54.20 a share, all in cash. Musk previously said the microblogging site has “extraordinary potential” and that he wants to unlock everything.

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Meanwhile, Tesla has long rivaled the Indian market. Earlier in January, Musk had said his company faces “many challenges” in launching its car in India, and Tesla is working with the government to overcome hurdles.

Ministers representing states like Telangana, Punjab, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra had invited Elon Musk to build a local manufacturing facility to help Tesla meet these challenges.

Elon Musk and top Tesla executives have been in talks with the government for years about the issue of high import duties. This is because Tesla wants to sell fully built units (CBU) of its electric vehicles in India before relying on local production. That is, Tesla wants to import cars into India and sell them in the local market.

Tesla has urged the government to cut customs duties — a 100 percent exemption — on its imported vehicles, which are already much more expensive than the average vehicle sold in India.

However, the Center has made it clear that there will be no reduction in tariffs or other benefits if Tesla does not establish a local factory. The disagreements have led to a deadlock and Tesla has failed to sell electric vehicles in India three years after showing intent.