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Carmakers ready to help Thailand become hub for electric vehicles in Asean

Jun 09. 2019
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By KWANCHAI RUNGFAPAISARN
THE NATION

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LOCAL and international car manufacturers are racing to cash in on the government’s policy to promote the growth of electrical vehicles (EV) in the local market and Thailand’s goal of becoming the production hub of EVs in Asean.

Speaking at the forum “Electric Vehicles: Technology that changes the world”, held recently by the Krungthep Turakij newspaper , Sanpetch Tangsawapark, vice president for corporate planning, marketing and sales strategy at Nissan Motor Thailand, said in the near future, the world of vehicles will be better.

“We will see many innovations, such as vehicles that can be connected via the Internet, self-driving models and technology that allows us to communicate directly with the wife and kids at home,” he said.

Sanpetch said that about 40 per cent of electric car buyers are millennials with mobile phone as the tool of communication. Cloud technology will also be involved. 

“Today’s vehicles must be safe and friendly to the environment and many pollutants, such as PM2.5 dust and CO2, can be managed through technology,” said Sanpetch.

He noted that Nissan had launched its “Nissan Intelligent Mobility” initiative, focusing on three key elements: intelligent power, intelligent driving and intelligent integration.

“We [Nissan] have our new ‘LEAF’ electric vehicle as our star icon. The brand has sold about 400,000 units around the world. In Thailand, we would like the electric solutions to be accessed by everybody,” said Sanpetch, adding that from its internal survey, about 44 per cent of Thai consumers want to buy a electric car as their next vehicle.

Pongsak Lertruedeewattanavong, vice president of MG Sales (Thailand), said the company would launch its new MG ZS EV electric vehicle in Thailand on June 20 at a price not exceeding Bt1.5 million. 

The electric vehicle features 150 horsepower with a 44-kilowatt battery. It can run 337 kilometres on a single charge.

“Most Thai and foreign carmakers are still reliant on the general compression engine technology and they have faced environmental and energy issues,” said Pongsak. “To overcome the challenges, many car manufacturers are striving to reduce emissions as much as possible. They have turned to alternative energies and innovations to tackle the issue,” he said.

Four pillars 

Pongsak said MG has set the direction of its vehicle technology with four major pillars: electrification, sharing, intelligent connectivity, and globalisation.

Theerapol Wonglertpichit, director/technical and service department, Energy Mahanakhon, said that many countries plan to phase out diesel and petrol cars. Thailand, however, has yet to move in that direction.

Its parent company, Energy Absolute (EA), is a listed company focusing on the development of alternative energy, such as bio diesel, solar and wind power. 

EA recently entered a joint venture with Taiwan’s Amita Technologies to develop 50 gigawatt-hour (GWh) lithium-ion batteries in Thailand. 

The company has also unveiled its full electric vehicle models, designed and developed by the company’s R&D team.

“We want electric vehicles to be born in Thailand. For EA, we do not compete with other players, but collaborate with them to expand the electrical vehicle market in Thailand,” said Theerapol, adding the company had received bookings for more than 4,500 units of its “MINE Mobility” electric vehicles at the Bangkok International Motor Show 2019, held between March 27 and April 7, at Impact Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi province.

He said that EA’s subsidiary, EA Anywhere, has opened 400 charging stations in the country. The company planned to increase the number to about 1,000 by the end of this year. 

Yossapong Laoonual, president of Electric Vehicle Association of Thailand (EVAT), said that Thailand could become the manufacturing base for electric vehicles in Asean as the government’s incentive policy is quite encouraging.

“We would like to have a turnkey research and development project on electric vehicle technology in the country so that Thailand can be a hub for manufacturing and exports of electric vehicles to potential markets around the world,” he said.

Yossapong said that Thailand’s electric vehicle market grew by nearly 200 per cent to more than 10,000 units last year. There are nine models on sales in the Thai market this year. 

He said electric vehicles should not be limited to passenger cars but should also cover other vehicles, such as electric scooters, electric buses, and tuk tuks.

 

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