Donald Trump Praises 'Genius' Elon Musk, Says Tesla Has to Build a Big Plant in U.S 'Because We Help Him'

President Donald Trump has said electric carmaker Tesla is going to build a "very big plant" in the U.S. and noted CEO Elon Musk also "does good at rockets."

Reacting to the news that Tesla is currently worth more than Ford and General Motors (GM) combined, Trump suggested during an interview with CNBC today at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, that Musk "has to" help the U.S. by operating in the country.

"He's going to be building a very big plant in the United States," the president said. "He has to, because we help him, so he has to help us."

Musk, 48, was recently seen celebrating on stage in Shanghai after opening an engineering plant in the country and delivering the first batch of China-made Model 3 cars to a handful of customers.

After dancing, the CEO said his firm may soon create a "design and engineering center" in China.

Tesla's main factory is based in Fremont, California, with an additional plant close to Nevada. The company recently announced a new development would be constructed in Germany, expected to be producing vehicles by 2021. It could push out 500,000 cars per year.

The company has been contacted for comment about its future plans.

Trump not only praised Musk's electric vehicle project but also his SpaceX venture, saying he was previously unaware about reusable rockets like the Falcon 9. The president said the technologist was a "genius" and likened him to U.S. inventor Thomas Edison.

He said: "You have to give him credit. I spoke to him very recently, and he's also doing the rockets. He likes rockets. And he does good at rockets too, by the way.

"I never saw where the engines come down with no wings, no anything, and they're landing. I said I've never seen that before.

"And I was worried about him, because he's one of our great geniuses, and we have to protect our genius. You know, we have to protect Thomas Edison and we have to protect all of these people that came up with originally the light bulb and the wheel and all of these things.

"And he's one of our very smart people and we want to—we want to cherish those people. That's very important. But he's done a very good job. Shocking how well, you know, how it's come so fast," the president continued. "I mean you go back a year and they were talking about the end of the company. Now all of a sudden they're talking about these great things."

Last November, Trump suggested Apple had built a new manufacturing plant in the U.S. In reality, as reported by The Verge, the factory in question had been in operation since 2013. The same month, Apple announced construction had started at a campus in Austin, Texas.

Working alongside NASA this month, SpaceX completed a launch demonstration of its Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket. It was the final major flight test of the craft before it starts carrying astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). "As far as we can tell thus far, it's a picture perfect mission. It went as well as one can possibly expect," Musk said.

Tesla recently hit the headlines after unveiling its new electric pickup, the Cybertruck.

Elon Musk
Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during the unveiling of the new Tesla Model Y in Hawthorne, California on March 14, 2019. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty