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Musk terms Tesla’s Saudi factory talks ‘utterly false’

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that the company will pick a location for a new factory by the end of 2023 Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that the company will pick a location for a new factory by the end of 2023

Billionaire Elon Musk has termed a media report about Tesla Inc. being in talks with Saudi Arabia to set up a production facility in the kingdom as “utterly false”.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Monday, citing informed sources, that the kingdom is in early talks with US electric vehicle (EV) maker Tesla.

“Yet another utterly false article from WSJ,” Musk said in a post on the messaging app X (formerly Twitter).

Saudi Arabia has been luring Tesla with the right to purchase certain quantities of metals and minerals the company needs for its EVs from certain countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, the report said.

One of the proposals the kingdom was considering involves extending financing to commodities trader Trafigura for a flailing Congo cobalt and copper project, which could help provide a Tesla factory with supplies, the report added.

In May, Musk said that Tesla would pick a location for a new factory by the end of 2023. It currently has six factories and is building a seventh in Mexico in northern Nuevo Leon state.

President Tayyip Erdoğan has asked Musk to build a vehicle factory in Turkey, the country’s communications directorate said. Reuters reported in August that Tesla’s senior executives met Indian government officials to discuss building a factory in India.

Tesla aims to sell 20 million EVs annually by 2030, up from around 1.3 million in 2022.

Currently, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund (PIF) is the majority investor in Lucid Group, a US-based EV startup that is a challenger to Tesla.

The construction of Lucid’s manufacturing facility in Saudi Arabia is well underway, with vehicle re-assembly operations expected to commence in September 2023, it said in its second-quarter earnings release last month.

PIF owns 60.2 percent of Lucid, with its investments reaching $5.4 billion since 2018.

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