Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has decided to visit Indonesia in November this year, as he reportedly wraps up Tesla operations in India amid continuous requests from top ministers and senior politicians to come and manufacture electric cars in the country. The Indonesian government wants Musk to set up a world-class electric batteries industry as the country has vast nickel reserves. Indonesian President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo met Musk in Starbase, SpaceX's rocket production facility, test site, and spaceport in Boca Chica, Texas, over the last weekend and invited him to come to Indonesia. According to Jakarta Globe, Musk admitted that he is very much interested in the future of Indonesia, which he feels has "great potential" for some collaboration with Tesla and SpaceX. "Musk also mentioned Indonesia's large population and consistent economic growth as factors that make him interested in the most populous country in Southeast Asia, the report said.
Tesla has been aggressive in sourcing nickel for its electric vehicle batteries. Meanwhile, ministers in India, especially Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, keep on making requests to the Tesla CEO to come and manufacture electric cars in India. From Telangana Minister for Industries, KT Rama Rao, to Maharashtra Minister and state NCP President Jayant Patil, several Indian leaders have made repeated appeals to Musk to bring Tesla to India, but to no avail. Musk had said that he faced challenges from the government for releasing its products in India. Currently, India levies 100 per cent tax on imported cars priced at more than $40,000 (Rs 30 lakh), inclusive of insurance and shipping expenses, while cars less than $40,000 are subject to 60 per cent import tax. With a $40,000 (over Rs 30 lakh) price tag, Tesla Model 3 may remain as an affordable model in the US but with import duties, it would become unaffordable in the Indian market with an expected price tag of around Rs 60 lakh. Meanwhile, the team Musk hired in India last year has now been diverted to focus on the Middle-East and the larger Asia-Pacific markets. Nishant Prasad, in-charge of establishing Tesla's supercharger network in India, has updated his LinkedIn profile to Charging Operations Lead-APAC. Manoj Khurana, who was Tesla India's first recruit, responsible for public policy and business development, relocated to California last month to take up a product role.