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Indonesia challenges Thailand's title as the 'Detroit of Asia'

Rich mineral resources for batteries give archipelago leg up in EV shift

Workers assemble a new BMW X3 vehicle for local distribution at a Gaya Motor assembly plant, part of Astra International, in Jakarta, in July 2018.   © Reuters

BANGKOK/JAKARTA -- Thailand is scrambling to defend its position as the "Detroit of Asia" as Indonesia closes the gap in auto production by leveraging its mining resources to capitalize on a global shift to EVs and other new energy vehicles.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo used last weekend's Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima, Japan, as an opportunity to lobby world leaders to make electric-vehicle-related investments. While auto industry rival Thailand was busy forming a new government, Widodo was aggressively pitching his country.

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