South African-born US entrepreneur Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc has not yet requested a business licence with the Ministry of Commerce as of April 6, ministry spokesman Pen Sovicheat told The Post.
The remark came days after a sizable billboard advertisement for the US-based electric vehicle maker sprouted up on an unopened showroom covered with its brand logo along Russian Federation Boulevard across the road from the ministry.
This sparked a flurry of comments and images on internet forums and Facebook groups fanning rumours that Tesla was set to establish its footprint in Cambodia, with some pointing out similarly-named firms listed in the ministry’s business registry.
But Sovicheat pointed out that the registry did not contain any of the company’s affiliates, nor had a dealer been granted exclusive rights to distribute Tesla-branded vehicles in the Kingdom.
“The ministry also checked the list of intellectual property rights holders and found that no individual or company has been granted exclusive rights,” he said.
The Post reviewed the ministry’s registry and came across Tesla Engineering and Construction Co Ltd and Tesla Industries Co Ltd, which were incorporated on 2016 and 2012, respectively.
Adisorn Chieu was listed as director of both firms and Preedawannalert Kompakorn was named as a secondary director of Tesla Engineering and Construction.
But the names were mere coincidence.
Chieu told The Post that his Tesla is not affiliated with the US electric vehicle giant and works with international partners on technology and engineering.
“My company’s name was registered in 2013, and it is not related to Tesla Motors,” he said using the US automaker’s former name.
“It is just a tech company named after famous scientist Nikola Tesla as an inspiration. At the time, the automobiles named Tesla were not widely known in Cambodia.
“To be clear, we have no connection to the import or authorised distribution of Tesla cars in Cambodia, but I do wish for a worthy automobile supply to the Kingdom’s market and people,” he said.
Neither Tesla, nor distributors in Australia or Asia responded to requests for comment as of press time.
The ministry’s Sovicheat said billboard campaigns typically accompany the entry of other automotive brands into the Kingdom such as Mazda, Volvo and Mitsubishi, but noted that they all had exclusive distribution agreements registered at the ministry.
“The ministry will continue to monitor this case. Overall, the Ministry of Commerce welcomes the boom in popularity of well-known brands that enter the Cambodian market.
“This stands as a symbol of trust among businesspeople and large businesses that inspires confidence in the Cambodian business environment characterised by transparency and stability.
“It is also proof that the Cambodian market has enough purchasing power to catch the fancy of renowned brands to enter into the Kingdom,” he said.
Tesla made just over 180,000 vehicles and delivered nearly 185,000 in the first quarter of this year, the automaker said in an April 2 press release.
“We are encouraged by the strong reception of the Model Y in China and are quickly progressing to full production capacity.
“The new Model S and Model X have also been exceptionally well received, with the new equipment installed and tested in the first quarter and we are in the early stages of ramping production,” it said.
On the Nasdaq stock exchange, Tesla’s share price surged $29.30 or 4.43 per cent to close April 5 at $691.05 for a market capitalisation of $663.31 billion, with 41.84 million shares traded.