Chinese Electric Carmakers Aiming Entry Into Thailand’s Markets

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The Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce said on June 25 that Chinese electric vehicle (EV) makers are targeting an entry into Thailand’s market with plans to establish manufacturing and distribution bases.

Narongsak Putthapornmongkol, the chamber’s chairman, announced this during the World Chinese Entrepreneurs conference in Bangkok, which brought together 4,000 Chinese entrepreneurs from various countries.

“EV is the most trailblazing industry right now as seen through investments from MG, Great Wall Motor, and BYD,” Narongsak was quoted as saying by Bloomberg, without providing specific details about the investments.

Thai Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit touted the “long-standing relationship” between Thailand and China and emphasized the need for stronger cooperation amid the challenging global environment.

“Thailand will be one of China’s greatest partners,” Jurin said at the conference, adding that Chinese investors will enjoy trade privileges and competitive production bases if they expand businesses in Thailand, The Nation reported.

According to the Commerce Ministry, Thailand received a total of 45.4 billion baht ($1.3 billion) in foreign investments in the first five months of 2023, with Japan and China being the major contributors.

Japan’s investments amounted to 15.9 billion baht ($452 million), and China’s reached 11.5 billion baht ($327 million). Singapore invested about 6.35 billion baht ($180.6 million), Thaiger reported.

Thailand is Asia’s fourth-largest auto assembly and export hub for carmakers like Toyota and Honda. The country aims to become a key player in the global EV supply chain by offering tax cuts and subsidies to drive EV adoption and production.

The government aims to convert about 30 percent of the country’s annual production of 2.5 million vehicles into EVs by 2030.

China’s Hozon New Energy Automobile reportedly signed a deal with Thailand’s Bangchan General Assembly in May for the production of its NETA V model in the Southeast Asian nation, which is expected to commence in 2024. The financial terms of the agreement were not specified.

Thai government spokesperson Tipanan Sirichana said that Hozon launched its NETA V model in the Thai market last year and planned to start offering its NETA U and NETA S models in the near future.

Other Chinese EV makers like BYD and China’s Great Wall Motor Co. Ltd. have also invested in building local EV production in Thailand.

China’s Changan Automobile announced in April that it would invest about 9.8 billion baht ($279 million) to set up its first right-hand drive EV production base in Thailand.

Narit Therdsteerasukdi, secretary-general of Thailand Board of Investment’s (BOI), said the factory will have an initial production capacity of 100,000 vehicles for domestic and export markets.

“The BOI will continue to work with various agencies to attract other EV manufacturers from Asia, Europe, and America to invest in Thailand,” Narit said in a statement.

“We are also actively promoting the buildup of an electric charging network and other necessary elements to strengthen the EV ecosystem and related industries in Thailand,” he added.

The BOI stated that it had granted approval to 26 EV production projects, including battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles, and hybrid vehicles from 17 companies with a total investment value of 86.8 billion baht ($2.5 billion) as of April.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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