There are reports in Indonesian media that claim Tesla has agreed to build a battery and EV factory at an industrial complex in the Central Java province, quoting Bahlil Lahadalia, the country’s Minister of Investment and head of Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board.
Talks have been going on for some time now but it was reported that Indonesia’s discussions with Tesla to build a factory in the archipelago had fallen through back in March 2022. Talks restarted sometime in April, culminating in a meet between Indonesian president Joko Widodo and Tesla CEO Elon Musk at SpaceX’s facility in Texas, where Musk said he would visit the country in November this year.
There has been no official announcement from Tesla on an Indonesian investment so far. Indonesian Minister Lahadalia did not give any specifics either, only saying Tesla will enter Indonesia this year.
The only ASEAN country with an official Tesla retail presence so far is Singapore. No word on a Malaysian retail presence, but there is an intention to explore starting with supercharger sites, presumably to support Singaporean Tesla vehicles driving on Malaysian roads.
An Indonesian Tesla battery factory is likely, even if an Indonesian Tesla car factory isn’t a sure thing at this point. Tesla wants a nickel supply, and Indonesia is rich in the resource but has banned raw nickel exports to encourage processing within the country. So if Tesla wants the nickel, it can have it only if uses it to build a final product inside Indonesia.
Of course, if a battery factory is already in Indonesia, it increases the likelihood of a regional car factory in the country as well since it would make for a more tightly integrated supply chain.
Malaysia is also interested in courting Tesla to set up a facility here, with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri extending an official invitation earlier this month, but from a layperson’s perspective it certainly looks like Indonesia is ahead of the game when it comes to being the site for a regional factory.
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