DETROIT, June 12 (Reuters) - Tesla Motors Inc will build an assembly plant in Europe once sales of its electric cars reach 160,000 vehicles a year in that region according to Chief Executive Elon Musk, the Automotive News reported on Thursday.
"My aspirations for Europe are that we sell a comparable number of cars in Europe as the U.S.," Musk told Automotive News at an event in London to celebrate the delivery of the first right-hand-drive Model S sedans in the United Kingdom.
He told the industry publication that once global sales pass 500,000 vehicles, it "would make sense" to have a factory in Europe and in China.
Tesla officials could not immediately be reached to comment, but Musk said last month during a conference call that the company would have to open a plant in China within three to four years and it would also study opening a plant in Europe.
Musk also told Automotive News that Tesla plans to open a European research and development center in the United Kingdom in 2015 or 2016 and will expand its final assembly plant in the Netherlands where batteries are reinstalled back into Tesla vehicles imported into Europe from the United States.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)