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Tesla becomes latest EV company to see promise in Malaysia

U.S. automaker plays catch-up with official launch in Southeast Asian country

Isabel Fan, center, Tesla's regional director, poses with dignitaries at the company's launch in Malaysia on July 20 in Kuala Lumpur. (Photo by Norman Goh)

KUALA LUMPUR -- Tesla officially launched operations in Malaysia on Thursday as it joins other electric vehicle manufacturers already active in the Southeast Asian country vying to draw investment to compete with Thailand and Indonesia, which have been ramping up efforts to develop their EV industries.

The Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) has approved 58 EV investment projects totaling 26.2 billion ringgit ($5.8 billion) from 2018 to March 2023, covering vehicle assembly, manufacturing of parts and charging components. The country has nearly 1,000 charging stations and plans to build 10,000 across the country by 2025.

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