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Not just Tesla & Starlink, Musk’s visit will have major impact on India story, AI & semicon to get a fillip

Elon Musk is scheduled for his maiden visit to India on April 21. During his two-day stay, he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and, possibly, investors and manufacturing partners for both the ventures he plans to start in the subcontinent.

In his visit to India, Musk is expected to announce the formal beginning of the operations of Tesla, his EV venture, and Starlink, his satellite internet venture. He is also expected to announce an investment of $2–3 billion for the Tesla factory alone.

While introducing Tesla’s electric vehicles and Starlink’s satellite internet service in the Indian market will be a landmark event in India’s technological evolution, Musk’s visit holds much broader significance.

Musk’s visit comes as India enjoys a rapidly evolving technology and electronics landscape, characterized by recent legislative milestones such as enacting new data protection and telecom laws.

Additionally, the government’s approval of multiple semiconductor investment proposals underscores India’s strategic efforts to attain self-sufficiency in this critical domain and establish itself as a significant semiconductor hub.

Musk’s presence in India, thus, aligns with the nation’s concerted efforts to fortify its technological infrastructure and foster innovation in critical sectors, signaling a pivotal moment in India’s journey toward digital transformation and self-reliance.

Musk’s visit to India will significantly impact India’s story.

Tesla’s boost to India’s auto components industry
Tesla has established significant ties with Indian manufacturers, sourcing a wide range of auto parts from factories and businesses within the country. Approximately 30 companies, including at least 8 Indian firms with manufacturing and other operations in India, serve as suppliers to Tesla, providing various components for its EV.

According to Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal, Tesla’s procurement from these suppliers amounted to about $1 billion worth of parts in 2022.

During a visit to Tesla’s Fremont factory, Goyal disclosed that Tesla’s engagement with Indian manufacturers is only set to grow. The company is anticipated to ramp up its imports from India, with an estimated value of approximately $1.9 billion worth of parts slated for the following year.

These developments show that Tesla’s already significant footprint in India’s automotive ecosystem will only grow once it sets up its factory in India. Furthermore, it is also expected that Tesla will set up new supply chains and get even more critical components from Indian suppliers for its global EV operations.

India’s battery-producing sector, too, is bound to get a significant boost.

India Semicon
Ahead of Elon Musk’s anticipated visit to India, Tesla has purportedly inked a significant agreement with the Tata Group to manufacture silicon chips or semiconductors within India. These chips are slated for utilization in electric vehicles (EVs) manufactured in India and in EVs distributed worldwide.

While India’s semiconductor industry is still in its nascent stages, a handful of players have been making substantial strides and impacting some of the most discerning clients globally. Tesla, renowned for its cutting-edge automotive features, choosing to collaborate with an Indian conglomerate like Tata signifies a significant milestone for India’s semiconductor sector, signalling its readiness to compete on the global stage.

India’s AI talent gets a global stage
Elon Musk’s longstanding interest and substantial investments in artificial intelligence (AI) underscore his belief in its transformative potential. Naturally, he has some ambitious plans for integrating AI with Tesla and ventures like xAI. Tesla is also working on Robotaxis, a fleet of self-driving cars that can operate without the need for any human intervention

India boasts one of the world’s largest talent pools in AI engineering, offering a rich resource of skilled professionals and innovative startups in this field. While the AI startup ecosystem in India is still in its infancy, it holds immense promise for growth and innovation, potentially rivalling established players like OpenAI given the right support and backing.

Musk’s vision for Tesla as an AI company shows the critical role of data in driving advancements in AI technology. In this context, India’s vast pool of IT engineers and burgeoning startups are well-positioned to contribute meaningfully to Tesla’s AI-driven initiatives. The abundance of talent and entrepreneurial spirit in India presents a ripe opportunity for collaboration and innovation in the realm of AI, aligning with Musk’s overarching vision for the future of technology.

SpaceX to invest in India’s aerospace sector?
Over the past few years, the Indian space sector has gone through a major liberalisation, as shown by the release of the new Indian Space Policy in 2023. Furthermore, the recent relaxations in foreign direct investment (FDI) norms by the government in India’s aerospace sector speak volumes.

As a result, several startups such as Pixxel, Digantara, and Dhruva Space, have made strides by deploying their satellites and payloads into space. Hyderabad-based Skyroot even managed to develop its own launch facilities.

Reports suggest that Elon Musk is slated to meet with several Indian aerospace startups next week, which signals a keen interest and possibly an intention to invest in India’s space sector. This underscores the growing allure of India’s space industry and the potential for collaboration and innovation in this dynamic space. Projections indicate that the sector could swell to a staggering $916.85 billion by 2033.

As a result, established players like Blue Origin have been engaging with Indian authorities and startups and exploring potential collaborations and manufacturing partnerships for quite some time now.

Considering this backdrop, the prospect of SpaceX entering the Indian market doesn’t seem farfetched. Such a development could reshape the landscape of the rocket launch ecosystem in India, currently dominated by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and promising startups like Skyroot and Agnikul.

The Green signal is MusK
Elon Musk enjoys celebrity-like status in the business world, thanks to his prowess as an entrepreneur, inventor, and investor. His recent venture into Twitter, now X, notwithstanding, it would be foolish to underestimate Musk’s acumen, especially considering his track record of success across various ventures.

It is because of his efforts in the electric vehicle sector that we are having conversations about ditching ICEs and switching over to EVs as a mode of sustainable transportation. Similarly, it was his involvement with Neuralink that catapulted brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) into the mainstream consciousness, even though there were several other startups that were already working on BCIs far more complex than what Neuralink is involved with.

Musk’s influence goes beyond industries and borders. Many business leaders regard him as a barometer for market trends and investment opportunities. His strategic decisions and innovative pursuits often serve as a guiding light for investors, influencing their decisions on where to allocate resources and which countries to prioritise for investment.

Don’t be surprised if Musk’s Tesla investment in India spurs other major manufacturers to set up their factories and operational centres in the country.

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