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This week in EVs: Musk’s AI Ultimatum | Pro Recap



© Reuters — Here is your weekly Pro Recap of the past week’s biggest headlines in the electric vehicle space: Elon Musk seeks increased voting control; BYD looks to dominate Indonesian market; and Vinfast finds light in missed target.

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Elon Musk’s AI ultimatum

Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:) CEO Elon Musk made waves this week with announcements on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), revealing the CEO is “uncomfortable” with expanding Tesla’s role in artificial intelligence and robotics without securing a minimum 25% voting control. Musk, currently holding 13% of Tesla’s stock, expressed a desire for influence without absolute control. He hinted at openness to a dual-class share structure, but hurdles exist following Tesla’s IPO.

Musk’s recent divestment of billions in Tesla shares in 2022, aimed at financing his $44 billion Twitter acquisition, adds complexity to his pursuit of greater control. The CEO’s vision extends beyond Tesla, as he hinted at developing products outside the company if he cannot secure the desired stake.

Also, response to a new U.S. government regulation, Tesla revised its electric vehicle driving-range estimates. Updates on Tesla’s website indicate adjustments for various models, aligning with the government’s push for accurate real-world performance representation. These changes range from minor adjustments to more substantial shifts, such as the Model S Plaid’s estimated range dropping from 396 miles to 359 miles.

Tesla’s China segment revealed this week, plans for a countrywide tour to showcase the Cybertruck pickup. While specific dates were not provided, Musk mentioned on the X platform that the company might send Cybertruck prototypes for display in China, acknowledging the challenges of making the vehicle road-legal in the country.

Shares of TSLA ended trading on Friday down 5.15% for the week.

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BYD eyes Indonesia

China’s BYD Co Ltd Class A (SZ:), now the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer, has set its sights on Southeast Asia.

Surpassing Tesla in the fourth quarter, BYD achieved a remarkable 3.02 million electric vehicle sales in 2023, mostly directed to the Chinese market. The company’s success in Southeast Asia is attributed to affordable models and strategic partnerships with local distributors.

BYD introduced three battery electric vehicle models in Indonesia, aiming to establish itself as the market leader in Southeast Asia’s largest economy. The Dolphin hatchback, Atto 3 SUV, and Seal sedan join BYD’s existing lineup, which already includes electric buses and taxis offered through Indonesian partners.

In a bold move to solidify its position in Thailand, BYD’s Thai distributor, Rever Automotive, plans to triple its dealerships within the next two years. This includes adding 200 dealerships by the end of 2025 and expanding offerings in commercial vehicles and new passenger car segments.

Thailand, contributing 20% to BYD’s international sales in Q3, remains BYD’s largest overseas market. A $504 million investment in a new factory in Thailand, set to open this year, underlines BYD’s commitment to the thriving Thai market.

VinFast remains ambitious

Vietnamese electric vehicle manufacturer VinFast Auto (NASDAQ:) faced challenges in meeting its 40,000 cars delivery target in 2023. The company cited slow EV adoption in certain regions, intense competition, and an uncertain economic environment as contributing factors to the shortfall.

Despite falling short of the target, VinFast experienced a notable uptick in deliveries during the final quarter of 2023, witnessing a 35% increase to 13,513 units compared to the third quarter. Deputy CEO of Sales, Tran Mai Hoa, acknowledged the challenging market backdrop but highlighted the significant ramp-up in vehicle deliveries during the fourth quarter.

While VinFast did not provide a detailed breakdown of market-specific sales, approximately 60% of the deliveries in the second and third quarters were directed towards Green SM (GSM), an affiliate of VinFast. GSM, a Vietnam-based taxi operator and leasing provider, is predominantly owned by VinFast’s CEO, Pham Nhat Vuong.

Despite the delivery challenges, VinFast remains ambitious, recently unveiling plans to establish manufacturing and battery facilities in India. The company is also eyeing expansion into more markets in the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia, including Indonesia.

Shares of VFS ended trading on Friday up 6.66% for the week.

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