Tesla CEO Elon Musk has once again taken aim at the Wall Street Journal, this time over a report suggesting Tesla might receive backing from Saudi Arabia to build a factory there.
On Monday, September 18, Eastern Time, WSJ citing sources familiar with the matter, reported that Saudi Arabia and Tesla were in preliminary talks to establish an electric vehicle production plant in the kingdom. The move by Saudi Arabia is seen as an effort to diversify its domestic economy.
The report suggested that Saudi Arabia had previously tried to entice Tesla with procurement rights for some of the metals and minerals required for electric vehicle production. One proposal under consideration by Saudi Arabia involves providing financing to commodity trading giant Trafigura for a cobalt and copper project in Congo, which could potentially supply Tesla's factories.
Given the contentious relationship between Musk and Saudi Arabia, as Saudi Arabia is a major investor in Tesla's rival Lucid, any potential deal between Tesla and Saudi Arabia is likely to be complex. 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, a spokesperson for Trafigura mentioned that the company is evaluating its options for the Mutoshi project in Congo, given the rising costs and persistently low cobalt prices. While Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment from other media outlets, Saudi Arabia's largest sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), declined to comment.
Musk took to the social media platform, formerly known as Twitter, to denounce the report about preliminary talks between Tesla and Saudi Arabia as "yet another utterly false article from WSJ." He attached a screenshot of the article's headline, summary, and publication time.
Some users on the platform commented that the media outlet could have easily verified the information by emailing Tesla. Others went as far as likening the media outlet to a trash can.
Before the news about a potential collaboration between Saudi Arabia and Tesla emerged, Turkey's state-run news agency, Anadolu, had just reported that during recent talks in New York, Turkish President Erdogan extended an olive branch to Musk. Erdogan expressed hope that Tesla would build a factory in Turkey and conveyed Turkey's openness to collaboration on artificial intelligence (AI) and SpaceX's Starlink satellite constellation. He also 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 one of the top contenders 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 that it might select a location for another new factory globally before the end of the year.
Earlier 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, which is about 25% cheaper than the current budget version, catering to the local Indian market and for export.