TUESDAY, April 16, 2024

BOI upbeat on making Thailand an EV hub after THB9.5-bn offer from Chinese automaker

BOI upbeat on making Thailand an EV hub after THB9.5-bn offer from Chinese automaker

The Board of Investment (BOI) on Thursday expressed confidence that Thailand would achieve its goal of becoming the regional hub for the manufacturing of electric vehicles after receiving a 9.8-billion baht investment proposal from a large Chinese automaker.

BOI secretary-general Narit Therdsteerasukdi briefed reporters after Changan Automobile Co Ltd made an official announcement on Tuesday that it would invest 9.8 billion baht in a factory to make EVs in Thailand.

Narit said Thailand would be the first manufacturing base of Changan outside China to make right-hand steering vehicles and the factory would have a full capacity of making 100,000 vehicles annually, mainly for exports.

Narit said the BOI has been closely coordinating with Changan Automobile for over two years before it made its official announcement to seek BOI’s investment privileges for its project in Thailand.

Narit recounted that BOI executives had travelled to China early this month to provide key information to Changan executives for helping them make their final decision.

During the trip, the BOI assured Changan Automobile of support measures from the Thai state and Thailand’s readiness to become an international EV hub.

Narit said the investment in Thailand would also be Changan’s first mega-project outside China. Its factory would make battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and range-extended EVs with an annual capacity of 100,000 vehicles.

He said Changan would also build an EV battery factory to supply batteries to its auto plant.

Narit said the Changan factory would make EVs to meet the growing local demand and to export to Asean countries, Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa.

Changan Automobile is a Chinese state-owned automobile manufacturer headquartered in Jiangbei, Chongqing. Founded in 1862, it is China’s oldest automaker.

Narit said Changan is the fourth largest automaker in China and it has leading technologies for EVs and has smart driving technologies for controlling the vehicles.

Its major investment partners in China are Ford and Mazda.

According to Narit, Changan Automobile has expressed interest to invest in Thailand since 2020 and it has been in close contact with the BOI’s branch in Shanghai. The Chinese manufacturer also sent its team of senior officials to meet the BOI and other government agencies concerned several times for information.

“Changan’s decision to invest in Thailand is another milestone for the drive to turn Thailand into a major EV hub of the world. It also showed the confidence of the Chinese manufacturer in Thailand’s infrastructure, market potential and the government’s proactive and comprehensive EV support policies as well as in the supply chains that support the EV manufacturers,” Narit said.

He added that Changan had started holding talks with key supply chains in Thailand to produce parts for its factory and the investment would bolster the strength of small and large auto-parts makers in Thailand.

Narit added that the BOI would join other government agencies to woo other EV manufacturers to use Thailand as their base, including automakers in Asia, Europe and America.

The BOI would also support investments in EV-charging stations and the development of an EV ecosystem in the country to strengthen the EV manufacturing, Narit added.

He said the BOI Office had so far approved investment privileges for 26 BEV, PHEV and HEV projects of 17 manufacturers with a combined investment value of 86.8 billion baht.

He said two EV manufacturers would apply for BOI privileges within the first half of this year. One of them is Changan Automobile , which plans to submit its application next month.

The other manufacturer is GAC Aion, another Chinese manufacturer, which announced in late March its plan to invest 6.4 billion baht to build an EV factory in Thailand.