By Aditya Kalra and Shivangi Acharya
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal met senior U.S.-based Tesla executives last week in a closed-door meeting to discuss the carmaker’s plans to establish a manufacturing plant in the country, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
Tesla has expressed an interest in building a factory in India that would produce a low-cost electric vehicle (EV) priced at $24,000, around 25% cheaper than Tesla’s current entry model, for both the Indian market and export.
Tesla’s senior public policy and business development executive Rohan Patel, and a vice president for supply chain, Roshan Thomas, also met officials from the Invest India agency during their time in the country.
Their meeting with Goyal, however, was the most high-profile one since Tesla CEO Elon Musk met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June in New York, with the billionaire later saying he was keen to make significant investments in the country.
The sources said the meeting with Goyal was held in a New Delhi hotel, where, according to one source, the Tesla executives met the minister privately along with at least one other government official.
Tesla and India’s commerce ministry did not respond to requests for comment. The sources declined to be named given the sensitivity of the discussions.
Meetings between Tesla and Indian officials are being kept tightly under wraps, with Modi and his top officials closely tracking the progress of talks, sources said earlier.
Reuters first reported on a planned meeting between Tesla and Goyal on July 24 with an agenda covering land allotment for a plant and the establishment of an EV supply chain.
Tesla and Goyal discussed the company’s plans during the meeting, said the first source, declining to elaborate further.
(Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Shivangi Acharya; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)