ISTANBUL (AFP) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged tech tycoon Elon Musk to open his next Tesla factory in Turkiye, becoming the latest leader to lobby one of the world’s richest men.
Erdogan and Musk have held a series of meetings both in Turkiye and on the sidelines of international forums, developing a seeming friendship that they extended on Sunday in New York.
Turkish television yesterday showed Musk entering New York’s Turkish House, a new skyscraper across from the United Nations (UN) building, with his son, whom he held on his lap during the talks.
“President Erdogan called on Tesla to establish its seventh factory in Turkiye,” the Turkish leader’s office said.
Turkiye’s Anadolu state news agency said Musk told Erdogan that his country was “among the most important candidates” for the new factory.
Erdogan’s lobbying efforts follow those undertaken by French President Emmanuel Macron, who met Musk in June, and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
Erdogan was in New York to attend the annual UN General Assembly meeting, which he is scheduled to address today.
Tesla currently has six factories, including two outside the United States – one in Shanghai focused on the Asian market and a second focused on European sales near Berlin.
It is also building one in Mexico, and has tentative plans for a plant in India.
Erdogan likes to promote Turkiye’s high-tech sector, which is arguably most famous for its Bayraktar combat drones.
Turkiye this year also unveiled its first domestically-made electric vehicle, called Togg, which requires a constant stream of electric batteries and parts.
Musk’s SpaceX has also been working with Turkiye’s space industry, launching some of its communication satellites.
Erdogan’s office said he invited Musk to attend Teknofest, a technology fair scheduled for later this month in Turkiye’s city of Izmir.