Could Tesla Build a Factory in Russia?

Tesla is looking to expand. Tesla CEO Elon Musk says that the electric vehicle and clean energy company is eyeing several possibilities for new Tesla factories. 

In a Moscow conference on May 21, Musk said that Tesla is considering building a factory in Russia. Musk made the statement during the New Knowledge forum, an educational conference.  

Tesla CEO Elon Musk stands outside of a Tesla Model X.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk | Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

Where are Tesla’s current factories?

Mask joined the Kremlin conference for students via video. He said that Tesla is looking at production plants around the world. Tesla already has production plants in the United States in Nevada and California. Additionally, Tesla has a plant in Shanghai. Currently Tesla has plants under construction in Texas and outside of Berlin, Germany. 

“I think we’re close to establishing Tesla presence in Russia and that would be great. And more broadly, also in Kazakhstan and neighboring regions. It’s important for us to support Tesla supporters like yourself,” said Musk.

Musk made the comment in response to a student’s question regarding the company’s possible expansion. In addition to discussing Tesla’s possible expansion, Musk spoke about artificial intelligence and Tesla’s hiring practices. 

Is there a market for Tesla’s in Russia?

A closeup of a Tesla Supercharger, the charging station for Tesla vehicles.
Tesla Supercharger | Smith Collection/Gado via Getty Images

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Currently Russia does not have any official Tesla charging stations or maintenance centers. Still, there are over 200 Teslas on Russia’s roads. Superchargers, Tesla’s charging stations, are opening soon in Russia, which supports the possibility of Tesla opening in the Eastern European country. 

On the other hand, Bloomberg says that only 5,300 used and 700 new electric cars were purchased in Russia in 2020. They went on to state that only 0.2 percent of Russia’s cars are electric. 

During the video talk Musk also said that the U.S. and Russia should engage in more dialogue. “There’s a lot of talent and energy in Russia,” he said. “Hopefully that energy continues into the future, and I would just like to strongly encourage people to strive to make the future better than the past and to be optimistic about the future.” 

What is the future of Tesla?

A red Tesla sits on a showroom floor.
A red Tesla | JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images

Elon Musk is a tech billionaire who believes that the future is electric. In addition to Tesla, which makes cars, battery energy storage and solar panels, Musk founded SpaceX. SpaceX is a company that makes rockets and spacecraft. Musk wants to lower the cost of space exploration and travel. Although SpaceX rockets are not currently electric, Musk is looking for ways to make space transportation cleaner. 

So what would make Musk look to Russia for a new Tesla plant? Tesla wants to establish themselves globally. In 2020 Tesla sold half a million new cars. Electric vehicle sales rose 36% from 2019 to 2020 and are poised to rise even more in 2021. Opening plants in new parts of the world allows them to grow their market worldwide. 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk | FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

This news comes just months after Musk informally invited Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to talk via a Clubhouse chat. Clubhouse is an audio social media site. Clubhouse users can network and discuss topics in dedicated rooms. 

After Musk tweeted Russia’s leader, a spokesperson for Putin said that they would need more information before agreeing to a conversation. Despite offering the invitation, Musk didn’t follow up. Eventually, Russia decided that it hadn’t been made in earnest, and both parties moved on.