Tesla eyes further expansion in South East Asia

HANOI, March 13: Expansion into Southeast Asia is a priority for Tesla, says Rohan Patel, a senior executive of the United States (US) automotive company.

In a recent post on the X social media platform, formerly known as Twitter, he also highlighted the fast-growing South East Asian market where the company faces competition from China’s BYD.

The senior public policy and business development executive at Tesla said that Southeast Asia will undoubtedly be a major place of growth over the coming years in battery storage and electric vehicle (EV) adoption, noting that the region has emerged as one of the hottest EV markets in recent years and could offer Tesla a large customer base at a time when demand is slowing in the US.

The Malaysian government had last year given Tesla the license to sell its cars in the country and said the firm would also establish a network of charging stations there.

Tesla is also in talks for expanding its operations in other countries, including in Thailand, which is Southeast Asia’s largest car producer and exporter.

A Thai government official said earlier this month that the company had discussed a potential production facility after surveying a site late in 2023.

However, Tesla’s ambitions for Southeast Asia will face competition from BYD, which has overtook rivals to account for more than a quarter of the EVs sold in the region.

In contrast with Tesla’s direct-to-consumer approach, BYD has partnered with large, local conglomerates that have allowed the carmaker to expand reach, test consumer preferences and navigate complex government regulations in the region.

The Chinese EV maker sold more than 26 per cent of all cars in Southeast Asia’s small but fast-growing EV market in the second quarter of 2023, while Tesla accounted for about 8 per cent according to the Hong Kong-based industry analysis firm Counterpoint.

EVs constituted 6.4 per  cent of all passenger vehicle sales in the region in the quarter, up from 3.8 per cent in the preceding quarter.