Chinese automakers unveil vision for Thailand EV hub

FRIDAY, MAY 17, 2024

1,500 Thai component manufacturers sign up for BOI symposium on EV supply chain to make their mark in local electric vehicle production industry

Leading Chinese automakers unveiled their vision to transform Thailand into a global electrical vehicle (EV) manufacturing hub at an event hosted by the Board of Investment (BOI) on Friday. 

The "BOI Symposium: EV Supply Chain Edition" marked the first time that all seven Chinese EV giants – BYD, MG, Great Wall Motor, NETA, Changan, GAC Aion, and Omoda & Jaecoo – have come together to showcase their blueprint for the Thai EV industry.

They also presented plans to source components domestically, aiming to elevate Thai manufacturers into the global supply chain.

Over 1,500 Thai component manufacturers registered for the symposium, which was held at the "SUBCON Thailand 2024" industrial parts exhibition running at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre (BITEC) until Saturday.

"Three Chinese automotive manufacturers currently produce electric vehicles in Thailand, namely GWM, NETA and MG,” said Narit Therdsteerasukdi, BOI secretary-general.

“BYD and GAC Aion plan to start production in the third and fourth quarters of this year, while Changan will begin production in early 2025. This will gradually increase the demand for domestic components.”

Narit said the symposium was a “crucial opportunity” for local manufacturers to learn about EV development and component procurement plans from automotive executives.

“It creates opportunities for business linkages and elevates Thailand's electric vehicle industry supply chain to a strong position, becoming a crucial manufacturing base for the future global automotive industry," Narit added.

BOI investment privileges cover 17 EV-related items, including batteries and charging stations.

The privileges have helped attract more than 18 billion baht in investment over the past two to three years, including 40 billion baht for 18 battery electric vehicle (BEV) plants, Narit said.

Thailand’s estimated annual EV production capacity now stands at 400,000 units, and all seven automakers confirmed that Thailand would be their primary production base in ASEAN. 

Ma Haiyang from GAC Aion said the company will invest in both manufacturing and distribution networks in Thailand and abroad, collaborating with local component manufacturers to develop high-quality products that meet the demands of consumers both locally and in the region.

Yubin Ke from BYD said that last year, BYD became the world’s No 1 seller of EVs, adding that its plant in Thailand uses more than 40% locally sourced components and plans to boost the procurement annually. The future aim is to boost production and develop components locally that can be given the “Made in Thailand” stamp.

Shen Xinghua, chairman of Changan, said the automaker plans to establish Thailand as an ASEAN hub for manufacturing, sales as well as research and development. Changan is eyeing an investment of around 10 billion baht and expects to commence production in the first quarter of 2025, with a production capacity of over 100,000 units. The aim is to domestically source 60% of the components, which will be increased to 90% if supported through government incentives.

Shu Gangzhi, of NETA Auto, said the company’s factory in Thailand will begin operations this year, with more than 60% of the components sourced from 16 local manufacturers. The eventual aim to increase the use of locally sourced components to 85%. The company said it is confident in its investment in Thailand thanks to the robustness of its supply chain.

Qi Jie, chairman of Omoda & Jaecoo (Thailand), said the company has manufacturing plants in 10 countries, though Thailand is its main production base in ASEAN. He said the company is committed to creating a “win-win” situation for both Chinese and local manufacturers through a collaboration exercise. Eventually, he said, the aim is to build a global energy vehicle production chain.

Suroj Sangsnit, of SAIC Motor-CP, which manufactures MG cars, said this is MG’s 11th year in Thailand. He added that the company has been using locally sourced components and has collaborated with Thai suppliers to innovate and set new standards for the EV industry.