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Thailand aiming to be a production hub for electric vehicles

By Danny Tan

Thailand, already known as the Detroit of the East, is now aiming to be a global production hub of electric vehicles (EVs), Bangkok Post reports.Demand for EVs has risen rapidly over the past five years and is expected to keep growing, and being an EV hub would help Thailand capitalise on strong demand for EV parts and batteries, said Thailand’s Science and Technology Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj.

“EVs are expected to be the new industry trend, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and saving limited oil resources,” Pichet pointed out at the opening ceremony of the Auto Parts Tech Day held at the Thailand Science Park in Pathum Thani province.“The global automobile industry is focusing on EVs and biofuel vehicles, while Thailand is a hub for one-tonne pick-ups and eco-car production. It’s a natural fit for the country to prepare for EV output,” he added.

According to the minister, his ministry plans to train staff and prepare facilities for EVs and offer investment privileges to attract investors. Also on the cards are plans to coordinate with universities to set up fuel-cell training courses to be included in the area of mechanical engineering with the goal of creating EV experts.

To further support the vision, the ministry has allocated Thailand Science Park as an EV parts R&D centre, and is set to designate an industrial estate as a special-innovation zone (SIZ) to create new products for the EV sector. For the latter, the ministry will discuss incentive packages for eligible investors with the country’s National Economic and Social Development Board and Board of Investment.

Organisations that are already conducting EV testing include PTT Plc, the Metropolitan Electricity Authority, the Provincial Electricity Authority and universities, running vehicles from small cars to buses.

If the current military-led Thai government pushes on with this EV plan, it will face Malaysia as a rival, as we have been making plenty of electric car sounds lately. Late last year, Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI) CEO Mohamad Madani Sahari announced that two EV models will surface by 2017, priced below RM100k.

It was also reported that MAI will coordinate the EV project, setting aside RM10 million for local companies to conduct EV R&D. As the battery constitutes some 30% of the overall price of an EV, MAI will also work with manufacturers to introduce a battery leasing concept – full story here.
More recently, Chinese carmaker Beijing Auto International Corporation (BAIC) chose Malaysia as its regional electric vehicle manufacturing hub, with a plant in Kedah expected to be operational in July 2016. BAIC’s Gurun plant, which is being built at the cost of between RM200 million and RM300 million, will also serve as a marketing centre for BAIC vehicles for Malaysia and ASEAN.
Of course, we also have the just-launched COMOS EV car-sharing service and a small network of charging stations in the Klang Valley in place. Thailand vs Malaysia – who will win the EV battle?

Source: Paultan

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