Tesla's Saudi Factory Plans Denounced by Elon Musk as False News

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【Summary】Elon Musk slams reports of Tesla's Saudi factory plans as "utterly false article." Wall Street Journal suggested potential backing from Saudi Arabia to build a factory in the kingdom. Musk denies the report, citing contentious relationship with Saudi Arabia. Turkish President Erdogan extends olive branch to Musk, hopes for Tesla factory in Turkey. Tesla executives also expressed interest in building a factory in India.

FutureCar Staff    Sep 18, 2023 11:17 PM PT
Tesla's Saudi Factory Plans Denounced by Elon Musk as False News

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has once again criticized the Wall Street Journal for a report suggesting that Saudi Arabia may back Tesla in building a factory in the kingdom. The report, citing sources familiar with the matter, stated that Saudi Arabia and Tesla were in preliminary talks to establish an electric vehicle production plant in an effort to diversify the kingdom's economy.

The report also mentioned that Saudi Arabia had previously tried to entice Tesla with procurement rights for metals and minerals required for electric vehicle production. One proposal being considered is providing financing to commodity trading giant Trafigura for a cobalt and copper project in Congo, which could potentially supply Tesla's factories.

Given the strained relationship between Musk and Saudi Arabia, as the kingdom is a major investor in Tesla's rival Lucid, any potential deal between Tesla and Saudi Arabia is likely to be complex. However, the report speculated that if an agreement is reached, Saudi Arabia could help Tesla achieve its sales target of 20 million vehicles by 2030.

In response to the report, a spokesperson for Trafigura mentioned that the company is evaluating its options for the Mutoshi project in Congo, considering rising costs and persistently low cobalt prices. Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment, while Saudi Arabia's largest sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), declined to comment.

Musk took to Twitter to denounce the report as "yet another utterly false article from WSJ." Some users on the platform criticized the media outlet for not verifying the information with Tesla before publishing. Before this news emerged, Turkish President Erdogan had expressed hope for collaboration with Tesla during recent talks in New York. Erdogan invited Musk to attend an aerospace technology festival in Turkey later this month.

According to the report, Musk indicated that many Turkish suppliers are already collaborating with Tesla, and Turkey is a top contender for the location of Tesla's next factory. He expressed his willingness to attend the technology festival in Turkey at the end of the month. Currently, Tesla has six car production plants worldwide, with a seventh under construction in Mexico. In May, Tesla mentioned the possibility of selecting a location for another new factory globally before the end of the year.

Last month, media outlets reported that Tesla executives expressed interest in building a factory in India during a meeting with the Indian Minister of Commerce. The new factory could produce a low-cost car priced at $24,000, catering to the local Indian market and for export.

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