Target Tesla

More than clinching the pioneering Internet service through low-orbit satellites offered by Starlink, a unit of billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX empire, the country’s best bet would be to secure the electric vehicle maker Tesla’s plan to set up a hub in the Southeast Asian region.

It will, however, have to compete fiercely against Indonesia which had launched an aggressive effort to clinch a deal with Musk.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo wanted Tesla to assemble its cars, as well as manufacture batteries in the country.

Jokowi seeks the exploitation of Indonesia’s rich nickel deposits to gain maximum benefit for its economy by putting up facilities to produce lithium-ion battery cells that are used in most electric vehicles.
Nickel is a vital material for Tesla which is the dominant electric car maker. Nickel is the third-largest component in a car battery, following graphite and lithium. The more nickel in the battery, the higher the energy density and the greater the range of an EV.

While Indonesia is the biggest exporter of nickel in the world with 1 million metric tons annually, the Philippines comes in second at 370,000 metric tons a year in a largely underdeveloped industry.

Indonesia is miles ahead in terms of negotiating with Musk regarding the Tesla regional hub plan.

Jokowi and senior government officials held meetings earlier this year with Musk to consider Jakarta as a car manufacturing hub, on top of making batteries.

With the swift development in the electric vehicle market, it would not hurt Musk if it also consider the Philippines, a major nickel producer as an alternate center for Tesla.

Starlink will likely have its debut in the region through its Philippine services anyway.

Jokowi seeks the exploitation of Indonesia’s rich nickel deposits to gain maximum benefit for its economy.

At the moment, Tesla has a production facility in China in what it calls as its Shanghai Gigafactory.

Tesla plans to invest another $188 million in upgrading the manufacturing facility in Shanghai.

The Shanghai plant is where the company produces the popular Model 3 and Y, as well as derivative car models.

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