Erdogan on Sunday met with the Tesla and SpaceX CEO in New York while visiting the U.S. for the United Nations General Assembly. The two met at the Turkish House in Manhattan, a skyscraper located near the UN.
“Recalling that with the Turkish electric car Togg hitting the roads in Türkiye, Tesla entered the Turkish market, Erdogan called on Tesla to establish its seventh factory in Türkiye,” Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported, citing the country’s communications directorate.
Erdogan also offered collaboration opportunities with Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX and Turkey’s space program, and invited the billionaire inventor to Teknofest, Turkey’s largest aviation, aerospace and technology festival taking place between late September and the end of October this year.
Musk replied that a number of Turkish suppliers are already working with Tesla and that Turkey “is among the most important candidates” for his next factory, Anadolu wrote. CNBC has contacted the Turkish communications directorate for the full statement.
Tesla has six factories and is currently building a seventh in Mexico. In May, Musk said he would most likely select a destination for a new factory by year-end. He is reported to have already spoken with Indian government officials about opening a manufacturing facility for low-cost electric vehicles in India.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment. The company’s stock price is up 123% year to date.
Erdogan and Musk also reportedly discussed cooperation on artificial intelligence and Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite internet service. Musk reportedly expressed interest in obtaining the necessary licensing from Turkey’s government to operate Starlink in the country of 85 million.
Turkey has positioned itself as a major manufacturing hub at the crossroads of Europe and Asia in recent decades.
Between 2012 and 2022, manufacturing as a share of Turkey’s GDP grew to about 19%, and the country aims to increase that to 21% by the end of this year as part of its 2023 Industry and Technology Strategy, according to U.S. Department of Commerce. Its strategy also includes state support for entrepreneurs, strengthened intellectual property laws, and major investment in STEM education and technology startups.
The department reports that of Turkey’s manufacturing exports, 36% are medium-tech products and 3% are high-tech products. Turkey plans to increase the proportion of its medium-tech exported products to 44% and its high-tech products to 6% by the end of 2023.