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Competition Heating Up for Tesla’s Attention between Turkey and Saudi Arabia

by | September 18, 2023

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Tesla CEO Elon Musk in New York City, hoping to lure him to build the EV maker’s next plant there, representatives for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia are making the same pitch.

Tesla’s a hot commodity for nation’s looking to diversify their economic base — particularly Saudi Arabia, which is so incredibly reliant on oil production. Erdogan, who was in New York attending the United Nations General Assembly, reportedly also spoke with Musk about partnering with Musk’s SpaceX.

Turkish Industry and Technology Minister Mehmet Fatih Kacir, who attended the meeting, told the Associated Press Musk described Turkey as “among the most important candidates for Tesla investment.”

What’s the hurry?

In May, Musk revealed the company was looking for place to locate a seventh factory. The company currently has plants in the U.S., Germany and China with another one under construction in Mexico.

The EV maker produces the world’s bestselling vehicle right now, the Model Y, and demand isn’t slowing down any, especially in the Middle East. Turkey’s interest isn’t a big surprise, but neither is Saudi Arabia’s.

In fact, Musk’s now-infamous “420” text message that cost him and Tesla $50 million in fines from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, suggested the money for the $420-per-share offer to take Tesla private was coming from the Saudis. Ultimately that didn’t happen, but the Saudi Private Investment Fund was, at one time, an investor in Tesla.

Now, it’s currently a big back of one of the EV maker’s rivals, Lucid Group Inc. The PIF has repeated plowed money into Lucid, in exchange not only for cars, but a commitment to build an EV plant in Saudi Arabia in the near future.

Musk hasn’t confirmed where the next plant will be built, and in fact, also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which was first reported by The Washington Post, to discuss how to build a low-cost EV structure in Israel.


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