Elon Musk told a conference in Moscow that Tesla is exploring opening up production in Russia, as the Kremlin confirmed its interest in setting up a meeting between the electric car pioneer and President Vladimir Putin.
Appearing via video link on Friday at a student forum organised by some of Putin’s top aides, Musk said the electric car manufacturer was “close to establishing a Tesla presence in Russia . . . and more broadly also in Kazakhstan and neighbouring regions”, which he added would be “great”.
“Over time we will look to have factories in more parts of the world, potentially Russia at some point,” Musk said.
Musk, who is also the chief executive of space exploration firm SpaceX, expounded his vision of bases on the moon and Mars while praising pioneering Russian rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and Sergei Korolev, the architect of the Soviet space programme.
Russia has watched SpaceX’s success with envy as its own once-leading space programme remains mired in corruption scandals and its director conceded defeat in a Twitter spat with Musk.
The forum, an attempt to revive the Soviet educational organisation Knowledge Society, was chaired by Sergei Kirienko, Putin’s domestic policy chief, and hosted by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, whom Musk said had asked him to attend.
“I think there’s a lot of talent and energy in Russia, and I think there should be more dialogue and communication between Russia and the United States,” Musk 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.”
It was the first public contact between the Tesla chief executive and the Kremlin since Musk asked Putin to chat with him on the social media app Clubhouse in February.
Peskov told reporters Russia was not actively preparing a Musk-Putin meeting but hoped “that in time it’ll probably happen at some point”, according to Interfax.