Erdogan asks Musk for Tesla gigafactory during meeting in New York

Erdogan asks Musk for Tesla gigafactory during meeting in New York
Musk and Erdogan met in a New York skyscraper at the weekend and discussed opportunities related to Tesla, AI and Starlink among other matters. / Turkish presidency
By bne IntelIiNews September 18, 2023

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked Tesla CEO Elon Musk during a meeting with the entrepreneur in New York City to build a Tesla gigafactory in Turkey, the country's communications directorate said on July 18.

It also quoted Musk as describing how many Turkish suppliers were already working with Tesla and as saying that Turkey was among the prime candidates for Tesla’s next electric vehicle (EV) plant.

Erdogan and Musk, who have met before, spoke during a meeting at Turkish House, a skyscraper near the United Nations in New York, Turkish state-owned news service Anadolu Agency reported. Erdogan is present in the US for this week’s UN General Assembly.

The communications directorate also said that Erdogan told Musk during their meeting that Turkey was open to cooperation on artificial intelligence (AI) and Starlink, the satellite internet business of Musk's SpaceX.

Musk responded, it said, that SpaceX desired to work with Turkish authorities to acquire the required licence to offer Starlink satellite services in Turkey. SpaceX launches the satellites of Turkey’s government-run satellite operator Turksat.

Erdogan invited Musk to attend Turkish aerospace and technology festival Teknofest in Izmir at the end of September and Musk said that he would be pleased to attend, it added.

Tesla currently has six factories worldwide—located in Fremont, California; Sparks, Nevada; Austin, Texas; Buffalo, New York; Berlin and Shanghai—and is building a seventh in Mexico.

Musk said in May that Tesla would likely decide on a location for a new plant by the end of this year.

In October last year, the Togg, billed as Turkey’s first domestically-produced EV—though the vehicle is dependent on foreign companies for key components such as its lithium ion battery and engine—was unveiled by Erdogan, who took one for a spin.

Musk, who acquired social media network Twitter earlier this year and lately renamed it as X, has referred to himself as a free speech absolutist, but he has complied with some Turkish government demands to censor content in Turkey. 

In May, Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, hit out at Twitter's decision to block some content within Turkey the day before the country held its presidential and parliamentary elections. Musk said that Turkey threatened to block the whole site if some specified content was not blocked.