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Mazda looks into making electric vehicles in Thailand

Apr 06. 2017
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By The Nation

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Japanese carmaker Mazda has responded to the government’s “Thailand 4.0” technology policy with a feasibility study on producing electric vehicles (EVs) in this country.

Mazda says it is in the second stage of its “Building Block Strategy”, which consists of introducing high-performance automotive technology and fuel-saving technology (SKYACTIV technology).

“The third stage is the move towards the use of electric powertrain assistance components. The Thai government’s EV project that was approved by the Cabinet last week harmonises with Mazda’s philosophy, and Mazda is interested in studying the possibilities of initialising such a project in Thailand,” said Chanchai Trakarnudomsuk, president of Mazda Sales (Thailand) Co.

Mazda says it has been growing sales dramatically in recent years thanks to new models with SKYACTIV technology, and 2017 has been fruitful for the company so far. 

During the first quarter, the company sold 11,562 vehicles in Thailand, for year-on-year growth of 6 per cent. March sales were even better, surging by 30 per cent, while sales of the 2017 Mazda2 were close to 3,000 units, equivalent to growth of 47 per cent. 

“The outstanding performance shows that Mazda has taken the right approach in the Thai market,” Chanchai said. 

“This year the company wants to … raise the level of its service, after-sales and parts availability, as well as introducing the new ‘Mazda Corporate Identity’ showroom theme in its drive to become a premium brand. 

“Mazda is also responding to the innovation-based Thailand 4.0 government policy by preparing to carry out a fully EV study programme in Thailand.” 

Chanchai said Mazda had long shown its confidence to Thailand, making the country an integrated manufacturing base, and the first country outside Japan with Mazda vehicle assembly, engine production and transmission production. 

Thailand is also Mazda’s parts-distribution centre for the Asean region. 

The company has also invested heavily in Thailand in many important projects, such as the eco-car Phase 2 programme (Mazda2), the super-cluster programme, and its engine and transmission plant in Chon Buri province.

“Sales figures since January has been positive, helping the industry to see growth during the first quarter of the year,” Chanchai said. “This is a good sign, and considering that the economy is starting to pick up, this is like a light at the end of the tunnel after years of cloudiness. 

“From now on all sides must prepare for the positive change in the economy. And with the recent Cabinet approval of the EV project, Mazda must quickly study the possibilities, because it matches our mid-term business plan.” 

Last month, Mazda sold a total of 5,015 vehicles, up 30 per cent compared with March last year (3,871 units). 

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