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Asia Minute: Tesla may be shopping in South Korea for expanded factory capacity

A Tesla Supercharger station is shown in Detroit, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/AP
A Tesla Supercharger station is shown in Detroit, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022.

Elon Musk is shopping for Asian locations to build electric vehicle factory capacity.

This week, he talked about some possibilities with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.

According to a summary of the conversation released by the president’s office, Musk said South Korea is one of the top candidates for factory investment.

The company founder said Tesla already uses a series of vehicle parts made in South Korea— adding that he expects the value of those parts will rise to roughly $10 billion by 2023— nearly double this year’s total.

South Korea’s government would love to host what the company calls a ʻGigafactoryʻ— a facility built in stages that can produce electric vehicles, batteries and other needed components.

Right now, the only ʻGigafactoryʻ in Asia is in Shanghai.

Meanwhile, South Korean producers of electric batteries and components continue their plans to expand capacity in the United States.

On Tuesday, LG Chem signed a deal to build a $3.2 billion cathode plant in Clarksville, Tennessee, supplying a critical part for batteries.

Production is scheduled to start in 2025 and part of the strategy is to insure electric vehicles built with these components qualify for U.S. consumer tax breaks under the Inflation Reduction Act.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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