Saudi Arabia is in early talks with US electric car maker Tesla to set up a production facility in the kingdom, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing sources familiar with the matter.
The report comes just hours after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan asked Tesla CEO Elon Musk to build a car factory in Turkey, the country’s communications directorate said.
Elon Musk will also meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in California on Monday.
Saudi Arabia is seeking to give Tesla the right to buy certain quantities of metals and minerals the company needs for its electric vehicles from countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, the report said.
The kingdom has been trying to shift its economy away from oil, while its sovereign wealth fund is the majority investor in Lucid Group, one of several EV startups looking to challenge Tesla’s dominance in the industry.
One of the proposals the kingdom is considering involves providing financing to commodities trader Trafigura for a faltering cobalt and copper project in Congo, which could help supply a Tesla factory, the WSJ report said.
A Trafigura spokesperson said the trader was reviewing its options for the Mutoshi project in Congo amid rising costs and persistently low cobalt prices.
Tesla did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment, while Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, declined to comment.
Elon Musk said in May that Tesla would likely choose a location for a new factory by the end of 2023. The company currently has six factories and is building a seventh in Mexico, in the north of the state of Nuevo Leon.
Tesla aims to sell 20 million cars per year by 2030, up from about 1.3 million in 2022.
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