A quick visit by Elon Musk to Luton airport near London a few days ago came as the U.K. government is courting the Tesla
founder, hoping he might build his next electric-car factory in the country. But Musk also said on Friday that he is considering Russia as a possible location.
- Musk said in the past that the exit of the U.K. from the European Union created too big a risk for a company that would want to export most of its car production to Europe, but his two-day visit near London last weekend saw British media speculate that he might change his mind.
- The U.K. government’s Office for Investment, created last year to lure foreign investment to the country, has been asking regional authorities to submit plans for potential factory sites that could cover 250 hectares, according to media reports.
- Musk criticized Germany’s regulations this week during a visit to the site of his first gigafactory in the state of Brandenburg, where production of the first cars has been delayed from July to the end of the year. “I think there could be less bureaucracy, that would be better,” he said.
- Tesla is “close to establishing presence in Russia,” Musk said on Friday while fielding questions from students during a Kremlin-sponsored event. “That would be great,” he added, saying that presence might at some point “potentially” include a factory.
The outlook: Analysts note that establishing a car factory geared toward the European market in the U.K. is a tall order. The type of “bureaucracy” Musk denounces in Germany would be harder to manage when dealing with the whole EU, and its own set of legal, technical and tax regulations.
If Tesla is considering a battery factory in the U.K., it would run into the problem of being too far from the motor manufacturer in Germany. That leaves a research and development facility — but it wouldn’t need the 250 hectares penciled in by the U.K. government. That is the type of investment Tesla was considering doing back in 2014 — and canceled after the pro-Brexit 2016 referendum result.