Elon Musk's Tesla Eyes Southeast Asia Expansion as China's BYD Pulls Ahead

By Jace Dela Cruz

Mar 13, 2024 03:17 AM EDT

Tesla is eyeing to expand in Southeast Asia to tap into the region's fast-growing electric vehicle (EV) market, where the US automaker faces competition from China's BYD.

FREMONT, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 20: In an aerial view, Tesla cars sit parked in a lot at the Tesla factory on April 20, 2022 in Fremont, California. Tesla reported first quarter earnings that far exceeded analyst expectations with revenue of $18.76 billion compared to expectations of $17.80 billion.
(Photo : Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Elon Musk's Tesla Looks to Expand its Footprint in Southeast Asia

According to Reuters, Rohan Patel, a senior public policy and business development executive at Tesla, said Tuesday that expansion in Southeast Asia is a priority.

"Southeast Asia will undoubtedly be a major place of growth over the coming years in battery storage and electric vehicle adoption," Patel said in a post on X as he responded to a user post that marked the first deliveries of the Model Y cars in Malaysia.

Alongside the Model Y, Tesla also offers its Model 3 compact sedan in Malaysia, where it obtained a government license to sell its EVs and established a network of charging stations. 

In addition to Malaysia, Tesla is also in talks to expand its operations in Thailand and other countries. Thailand is the largest car producer and exporter in Southeast Asia.

Tesla and Thai officials have discussed the possibility of establishing a production facility after surveying a site in the country late last year.

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Tesla vs. BYD

However, Tesla faces stiff competition from BYD. According to Reuters, this Chinese automaker has captured a significant market share in Southeast Asia, accounting for over a quarter of EV sales.  

Unlike Tesla's direct-to-consumer approach, BYD has forged partnerships with local conglomerates, enabling it to expand its reach, understand consumer preferences, and navigate regulatory complexities effectively. 

According to Counterpoint, BYD sold over 26% of all cars in Southeast Asia in the second quarter of 2023, while Tesla accounted for around 8%. 

READ MORE: Elon Musk's Tesla Sued by 25 California Counties Over Hazardous Waste

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