It’s no secret that Malaysia wants a bigger piece of the EV pie, but recently our PM has extended an invite directly to Tesla to set up shop in Malaysia. Will they accept?
In addition to already having an official presence in Singapore, the electric vehicle maker’s CEO Elon Musk has recently been showing renewed interest in Indonesia to potentially establish a factory for battery manufacturing and/or vehicle assembly.
Not wanting to feel left out, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has rolled out the proverbial “red carpet”, according to Bernama, to American investors, especially Fortune 500 companies in the digital economy, green technology, and electric vehicle sectors.
In Washington DC as part of a four-day diplomatic visit, after a meeting with Ambassador Ted Osius, president and chief executive officer of the United States (US)-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC), the Malaysian PM told journalists: "I've suggested to Tesla to invest in Malaysia in producing electric cars,”
"They regard Malaysia as an important trading partner of the United States," the Prime Minister said of the US-ABC.
It’s not known when or in what capacity this invitation was made or if it was directly to the Tesla CEO, but it doesn’t come as a surprise that Malaysia is campaigning for their interest given the aggressive moves the government has made over the past 6 months to encourage EV adoption and local investment.
Still, that might not be enough to sway the biggest players in the EV space. Even if the PM’s offer was welcomed, it isn’t likely to bear fruit in the short term given how long Tesla has been in discussions with Indonesia’s representatives, particularly to leverage its ample reserves of raw materials for battery production, a bargaining chip Malaysia just does not have.
The fact remains that, from a manufacturing perspective, Indonesia presents a much more appealing case for itself - from its wealth of nickel and cobalt just waiting to be mined, to its less expensive real estate and labour. It doesn’t help that they also dwarf Malaysia’s new vehicle market by volume.
Other Fortune 500 companies might see bigger opportunities in Malaysia but if our PM is to entice EV makers like Tesla, justifying it will take much stronger arguments.
There's just something about cars. It's a conveyance, it's a liability, it's a tool; but it can also be a source of joy, pride, inspiration and passion. It's much like clothes versus fashion. And like the latter, the pursuit of perfection never ends.