⚡️ India wants Tesla, but does Musk want Tesla in India? It's complicated

Musk Reads #257

Tesla considers India; SpaceX gets a NASA-assisted win; Elon Musk defends bitcoin. It’s the free edition of Musk Reads #257 subscribe now to receive two more editions later this week! 

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Musk quote of the week

“I might pump, but I don’t dump.” — Elon Musk said July 21 at The B Word, a panel discussion about bitcoin that also featured Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and CEO of Ark Invest, Cathie Wood. At the event, Musk challenged his position as crypto’s greatest enemy by affirming he would “like to see bitcoin succeed.” 


Tesla: Looking to lower import taxes

Tesla could build a factory in India but first the company will require a major change in tax policy. 

Or at least CEO Elon Musk will. On July 23, he explained that India’s import taxes concern him, although he is certainly interested in bringing Tesla to the country. 

“Import duties are the highest in the world by far of any large country!” Musk responded to a user hoping for a Tesla India launch “ASAP”. “Moreover, clean energy vehicles are treated the same as diesel or petrol,” he wrote. “[This] does not seem entirely consistent with the climate goals of India.”

India has placed high import duties across all manufacturing sectors for decades in order to support domestic-made goods. This has had a varying impact across industries, for better and for worse, an example of the latter being how high import taxes currently threaten affordable Covid-19 care in India.  

Selling Teslas isn’t quite as essential, but still, Musk is finding it worth fighting for. According to a Reuters report published the same day as Musk’s Twitter thread, Tesla sent a letter to Indian officials in an attempt to significantly lower import taxes on cars. Currently, those taxes stand at 60 percent for cars worth under $40,000 and 100 percent for cars worth over $40,000. As I’m sure you’re aware, the majority of Tesla vehicles fall in the “over $40,000” zone, so Musk would like to see those percentages fall to 40 percent for an electric vehicle of any value. 

It’s a big swing, and it’s currently unclear if Tesla will be able to sway the Indian government. (Local manufacturers might not be pleased if they do.) Reuters reports the company will begin to sell Teslas in India this year regardless. Also notable, in February 2021, the chief minister of Karnataka, BS Yediyurappa, announced that Tesla would be opening up a factory in the state.  But according to Musk, who could always just be bluffing, we can forget about Tesla India until import taxes get slashed. 

In other Tesla news…

  • Full Self-Driving Beta 9 will receive “several improvements” with iteration 9.1 this Friday at midnight.

  • Tesla will not offer potential Model S owners an alternative to the unique “yoke” steering wheel.


SpaceX: Next stop, Jupiter’s moon 

In another demonstration of NASA and SpaceX’s growing relationship, NASA has just signed a $178 million contract ensuring the Europa Clipper spacecraft will shoot toward Jupiter’s moon aboard a Falcon Heavy rocket

The scheduled launch is a bit of a long con, with liftoff planned for October 2024 and Europa Clipper presumed to reach Jupiter’s orbit around April 2030. 

According to NASA’s press release announcing the contract, the goal of the mission will be to “conduct a detailed survey of [Jupiter’s moon Europa] and [...] investigate whether the icy moon has conditions suitable for life.” If all goes to plan, Europa Clipper will perform multifaceted analysis of Europa’s topography and ocean, an “unfathomably deep” body of water that expands over the entire moon and is sheathed in an ice crust.

With Crew Dragon behind them and a $2.89 billion (Earth) Moon lander mission also very much ahead of them, SpaceX and NASA might be at the start of a truly stellar friendship. 


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In other Musk news…

T-minus the internet

A ranked list of everything Musk-related and online, handpicked weekly with bionic precision.  

10.  Grimes discussed Discord, her podcast about A.I., and the quest to discover post-human pop stars in a Billboard interview. Read more.

9. E-commerce site Coinbase Commerce will now accept Dogecoin as payment. Read more. 

8. Austin Tesla Club posted 10 new photos of Giga Texas, which is still under construction. See here.

7.  Neuralink rival Blackrock Neurotech wants to help you with your jet lag. All you’ll need is an implant in your brain. Are you interested?

6. The designer and owner of Heatherwick Studio, Thomas Heatherwick, unveiled his prototype for Airo, the car that vacuums up “pollutants from other cars as it drives along.” It also has fairly comfortable-looking orange corduroy seats that can be turned into a bed. Will wonders never cease?

5.  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) changed the rules of their Commercial Astronaut Wings program for the first time since 2004, when the program was created. With the new rules in place, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson probably aren’t astronauts. How sad for them.

4. But Bezos is already looking to go deeper into space, as terrifying as Earth-living TikTok users may find him and his laugh. Ha ha ha!

3.  Unlike Earth, Mars has a molten core. Read more.

2. YouTuber Marques Brownlee achieved Tesla virality by receiving nearly 6 million views on his Model S Plaid review, about double the views the official unveiling event received. One of Brownlee’s viewers was Elon Musk himself, who said the video was a “good review and fair critique.” Watch now.

1. And a piece of Musk history: In 2011, Elon Musk did an interview with the Wall Street Journal and told reporter Alan Murray that in his best-case scenario, SpaceX would lead a crewed flight to Mars in 10 years. 2021 isn’t over yet.


The ultra-fine print

This has been Musk Reads #257, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Ashley Bardhan, assistant to Musk Reads. I’ll be taking over the Monday newsletter for the summer. 

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Musk Reads+ is a fully independent operation. We are not Elon Musk, nor are we employed by him. Our job is to report the events we find newsworthy, giving you the inside look at the worlds of space rockets, electric cars, clean energy, and more. It means firsthand accounts of a SpaceX rocket launch, Tesla insights from third-party analysts, and more. 

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