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Tesla plans to set up EV manufacturing arm with Reliance in India

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NEW DELHI : Tesla may be scouting for a local partner to set up its operations in India. Highly placed sources say the US electric vehicles major is in talks with Reliance Industries for a possible joint venture to build the manufacturing facility in the country.

“Talks are at initial stages and have been ongoing for over a month,” said a person aware of the development. The source said the move shouldn’t be construed as RIL’s entry into the automobile space. RIL’s objective in the joint venture is to build capacities for electric vehicles in India.

“While the role of RIL hasn’t been crystalised yet, it is expected that the Indian conglomerate may play a significant hand in establishing the manufacturing facility and the allied ecosystem for Tesla in India,” said another highly placed source with knowledge of the matter. In 2023, RIL, in partnership with Ashok Leyland, launched India’s first hydrogen internal combustion engine-powered heavy-duty truck. RIL also unveiled removable and swappable batteries for EVs last year.

Tesla’s entry

Tesla is said to have committed $2 billion to its upcoming plans in India. The company has been looking at multiple locations, including Gujarat and Maharashtra, for setting up the plant. Sources said that Maharashtra could emerge as the preferred location. “Tesla plans to use the facility for domestic and export purposes, and hence, it may prefer a location suitable for port facilities,” said a source quoted above.

In a X (formerly Twitter) Spaces session with Nicolai Tangen, CEO, Norges Bank Investment Management, Elon Musk, CEO, Tesla said: “India is now the most populous country in the world, based on population. India should have electric cars just like every other country has electric cars. It’s a natural progression to provide Tesla electric vehicles in India,” thereby confirming Tesla’s entry into India.

Looking for partner

Senior officials of Tesla are expected to visit the country to finalise the plant location in a month or so and crystallise on the joint venture with RIL. Sources add that since the JV talks with RIL aren’t exclusive, Tesla may scout for another domestic partner if ongoing talks don’t fructify.

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