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Indonesia Proposes Electric Vehicle Battery Plant to Tesla CEO Elon Musk

by Anna

Indonesia’s top investment official revealed on Monday that the government has extended an invitation to Tesla CEO Elon Musk for the construction of an electric vehicle (EV) battery plant in the nickel-rich country.

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The announcement followed a meeting between Musk and Indonesian President Joko Widodo during the former’s attendance at a water conference held on the picturesque island of Bali.

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“We made an offer, is it possible to build an EV battery factory, precursor to cathodes, here. And he said he will consider it,” stated Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, addressing reporters.

Indonesia is actively seeking to bolster its industrial sectors to capitalize on its abundant natural resources, including possessing the world’s largest nickel reserves. Nickel holds significant importance as a material for EV batteries and solar panels.

During his visit to the Indonesian resort island, Musk, the billionaire head of Tesla and SpaceX, and owner of the social platform X, launched a Starlink satellite internet service. He engaged with officials and experts at the conference on global water challenges, expressing his belief in desalination’s potential to alleviate water shortages with sufficient energy provision.

Indonesia currently supplies 40% of the world’s nickel and aims to increase this to 75% by 2030, according to government data. With a goal of producing 600,000 electric vehicles by 2030, Indonesia mandates that EVs and related components manufactured domestically contain at least 60% local content by 2027.

Efforts to secure agreements with Musk’s Tesla regarding battery investment and SpaceX’s provision of high-speed internet access for remote Indonesian areas have been ongoing for years.

Pandjaitan, a prominent cabinet minister and close confidant of President Widodo, disclosed that the president also urged Musk to consider investing in an artificial intelligence center and constructing a launchpad in Biak, an island situated in Indonesia’s easternmost Papua province.

While Musk refrained from making formal announcements regarding investment plans in Southeast Asia’s largest economy during his visit, he hinted at future possibilities. “Well, I think it’s likely that we will be investing,” Musk remarked in response to a journalist’s inquiry about his intentions for Indonesia during a news conference following the ceremonial launch of the Starlink service alongside Indonesian government officials. “But I think it’s quite likely that my company will invest in Indonesia.”

Meanwhile, in the United States, federal highway safety investigators are seeking explanations from Tesla concerning the development and implementation of a fix in a recall affecting over 2 million vehicles equipped with the company’s Autopilot partially automated driving system. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has raised concerns about the efficacy of the recall remedy, as Tesla reported 20 crashes since the remedy was disseminated via an online software update in December.

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