A report from the Wall Street Journal stated Monday that Saudi Arabia has ‘been wooing’ Tesla with promises of the right to purchase certain quantities of metals and minerals the company needs for its EVs
A deal with the Saudis could help Musk achieve his ambitious goal of selling 20 million vehicles a year by 2030 – up from just 1.3 million sold in 2022.
However, Musk hit back at the WSJ on X, posting a screenshot of the article with the caption: ‘Yet another utterly false article from WSJ.’
Elon Musk has shut down claims that Tesla is in ‘early’ talks to open an EV plant in Saudi Arabia
A deal with the Saudis could help Musk achieve his goal of selling 20 million vehicles a year by 2030 – up from just 1.3 million sold in 2022. However, Musk hit back at the WSJ on X, posting a screenshot of the article with the caption: ‘Yet another utterly false article from WSJ.’
The WSJ report claims that people familiar with the discussion said Saudi Arabia is in talks with Tesla about setting up a manufacturing facility there.
The move, if true, would be part of an ambitious push by Saudi Arabia to diversify its economy away from oil and secure metals needed to make electric cars.
‘The talks are at a very early stage and could fall apart. Any deal could be fraught with complications, given Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk’s contentious relationship with the Saudis,’ reads the article.
Musk will also meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in California on Monday.
Saudi Arabia is said to be sourcing quantities of metals and minerals from other countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, the report said.
Democratic Republic of Congo is said to hold the world’s largest cobalt mines, mined workers ‘laboring in slave-like conditions.’
These workers include tens of thousands of children as young as four.
But, it is unknown how Saudi Arabia will source minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Saudi Arabia has been trying to shift its economy away from oil and signing billion-dollar deals with several countries to collaborate on developing, manufacturing and selling electric vehicles.
The report from the Wall Street Journal comes just hours after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan asked Musk to build a vehicle factory in Turkey
A deal with the Saudis would help Musk achieve his ambitious goal of selling 20 million vehicles a year by 2030 – up from just 1.3 million sold in 2022. But Musk said the claims are false
In June, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment signed a $5.6 billion deal with Chinese electric car maker Human Horizon.
The US-based Lucid Group announced in August that its first overseas plant in Saudi Arabia is set to start limited production of Lucid Air EVs this month.
However, Musk’s Tesla brand currently leads the Middle East EV market.
One of the proposals the kingdom is 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 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.
Musk’s talks with Saudi Arabia come just weeks after the nation sentenced Mohammad bin Nasser al-Ghamdi, 54, to death
Musk has banged on the drum about the importance of free speech. However, he has not acknowledged Nasser al-Ghamdi’s death sentence
Tesla did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment, while Saudi Arabia’s sovereign fund, the Public Investment Fund, declined to comment.
Musk said in May that Tesla would probably pick a location for a new factory by the end of 2023.
The company has six factories and is building a seventh in Mexico in northern Nuevo Leon state.
The WSJ’s claims come amid a series of high-profile human rights abuses by the authoritative regime in Saudi Arabia, which has been cracking down increasingly hard on peaceful dissent.
Last month, a court sentenced a retired Saudi teacher to death over a series of critical tweets of the regime.
Mohammad bin Nasser al-Ghamdi, 54, was accused of ‘using his accounts on Twitter and YouTube to follow and promote individuals who seek to destabilize public order.’