Tesla has shelved plans to open a store in Turkey after orders for the U.S. company’s electric vehicles have come to a halt following hefty tariff hikes for American imports in Turkey, local newspaper Dünya reports.
In May this year, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said on Twitter, replying to a follower, “Btw, planning to launch Tesla in Turkey later this year. Love your country & will be there in person for the launch.”
However, at the height of the U.S.-Turkish diplomatic and trade row this summer over the detention of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson, Turkey slapped steep import tariffs on American goods, including on cars. The pastor was released earlier this month, but in August Turkey had raised the import tariffs on U.S. cars to 120 percent a week after the U.S. imposed additional tariffs on Turkish steel imports.
New orders for Tesla in Turkey have come to a halt in light of the additional customs tax, Ferhat Albayrak, General Manager of luxury car sales market leader S&S Motors, told the Turkish Dünya newspaper.
Last November, Musk met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and discussed cooperation between Tesla and SpaceX and Turkish companies.
But Tesla and Musk’s affair with Turkey took a negative turn early this September, after the EV maker’s CEO appeared on live podcast and smoked marijuana.
Following the viral podcast, a Turkish municipality that was planning to work with Tesla on electric buses and charging infrastructure scrapped those plans. Mehmet Gürbüz, board chairman at the municipal transportation company in the western Bal?kesir province, told Turkish media after Musk’s podcast:
“We would be signing a serious deal for Tesla too as it would involve charging stations and infrastructure conversion. However, we find that Elon Musk’s behavior live on air would serve as a negative example for the youth, unacceptable for the fight against drugs. That’s why we give up on our goal to work with Tesla, and we retract our invitation to Elon Musk.”