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Monday May 16, 2022

Elon Musk ignores Indian politicians seeking attention on Twitter

Elon Musk has tweeted numerous times since his “challenges” tweet last week, but has so far not responded to any of his Indian entreaties

By AFP
January 17, 2022
Tesla funder Elon Musk.
Tesla funder Elon Musk. 

MUMBAI: Tesla owner Elon Musk has ignored all the Indian ministers seeking his attention on Twitter after the billionaire said government “challenges” were delaying his electric car company’s local launch.

A number of Indian politicians responded to Elon Musk anticipating a reply from him but he has not answered their messages on social media.

Tesla’s hopes to sell its vehicles in one of the world’s biggest markets have been stalled by efforts to negotiate lower import duties, which can be as high as 100%.

After being quizzed about a potential launch date last week, Musk tweeted that his California-based company was “still working through a lot of challenges with the government”, without giving further details.

The comments have since prompted ministers from several Indian states to respond on Twitter with public overtures to the world’s wealthiest man -- himself a prolific user of the social media platform.

“Hey Elon, I am the Industry & Commerce Minister of Telangana state in India,” KT Rama Rao tweeted in response to Musk on Friday.

“Our state is a champion in sustainability initiatives & a top notch business destination.”

Three other states put their own cases forward over the weekend.

West Bengal’s minority affairs minister said his corner of the country boasted the best infrastructure and “vision”.

In Mumbai the development minister touted his state’s “progressive” credentials.

And in Punjab, lawmaker and retired international cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu promised a commitment to green jobs and sustainable development.

Musk has tweeted numerous times since his “challenges” comment last week, but has so far not responded to any of his Indian entreaties.

New Delhi has introduced incentives for foreign carmakers to manufacture their vehicles locally but Musk has said he wants to gauge demand with imports first.

India imposes a 100% tax on imported electric vehicles worth more than $40,000, and Tesla fears the steep duties will price them out of the cost-sensitive Indian market.

Electric cars accounted for only 1.3% of all vehicles sold in the country in 2020-21, according to research by digital consultancy Techarc.

The government’s target is for 30% of private cars to be electric by 2030 as part of a wider push to decarbonise the transport sector.