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China Looks Mass Produce Electric Vehicles (EVs) in Thailand, Circumventing EU and US Tariffs

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China Looks Mass Produce Electric Vehicles (EVs) in Thailand
EV sales in Thailand reached 76,314 units in 2023, 7.8 times higher than 2022

China’s electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers plan to invest more than a billion US dollars in assembling their EVs in Thailand in order to circumvent tariffs and increase domestic sales and speed worldwide exports. China’s imported electric vehicles (EVs) are already heavily impeding US and Japanese car sales in Thailand.

Thailand is known as “The Detroit of Asia” because to its long-standing auto manufacturing industry. Toyota, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Honda, Ford, and other automakers dominate the growing domestic market for traditional internal combustion engines powered by gasoline, diesel, or LPG.

Thailand is Southeast Asia’s largest exporter of these automobiles, producing 2.5 million annually. These figures are projected to rise as China expands facilities in Thailand to assemble EVs and ship them throughout the region.

If the United States, Europe, and other countries impose severe tariffs on imports of “Made in China” vehicles, future Chinese cars “Made in Thailand” could give an alternative market access route.

China’s major EV advantage is its southeast coastal port, Shenzhen, from which Chinese EV producers can obtain intricate precision sensors, computer chips, batteries, and other high-tech gear and components.

Now, China’s BYD, which produces the majority of the world’s EVs, and Great Wall Motor have reportedly agreed to invest US$1.4 billion in new EV production and assembly facilities in Thailand.

Electric Vehicle (EV) Price Wars in Thailand

BYD, or Build Your Dreams, piqued visitors’ interest at the Bangkok International Motor Show in March by showing a $24,000 Dolphin EV that can travel 300 miles on a single battery charge and a $44,000 Seal that can cruise 360 miles.

Meanwhile, China’s Chery Automobile is developing a factory in Thailand to make vehicles for both the domestic and international markets. Chery plans to produce 50,000 EVs and hybrids by 2025, Thailand’s Board of Investment (BOI) announced on April 22.

The government owns Chery, China’s third-largest automaker.

“EV sales in Thailand reached 76,314 units in 2023, 7.8 times higher than the previous year,” Tokyo-based Nikkei reported in February.

“BYD placed first, accounting for around 40% of EV sales. According to Nikkei, Chinese companies accounted for roughly 80% of EV sales, while Japanese brands accounted for less than 1%, citing Autolife Thailand data.

BYD’s most popular vehicle in Thailand is the Atto 3 SUV.

“Agile and fun, the BYD Atto 3 provides an engaging driving experience,” BYD claims on its website. “The vibrant and streamlined central console reflects a positive and energetic attitude towards life.”

According to BYD, floor the pedal in an Atto 3 SUV and you’ll reach 100 kilometers per hour in 7.3 seconds.

“BYD sold 30,650 EVs in Thailand last year, followed by 12,777 sold by Neta – a brand of Chinese electric vehicle maker Hozon Auto which is based in eastern China’s Zhejiang province,” it was stated by the Associated Press.

Assembling EVs in Thailand

Tesla, British brand MG, and Chinese automobile maker Great Wall Motor all trailed behind. However, the majority of those sales were for foreign electric vehicles. Much of the new investment to enhance Thailand’s electric vehicle (EV) sector is going into custom-built, high-tech facilities and assembly line infrastructure.

“Neta has announced plans to begin assembling EVs in Thailand, and Great Wall Motor bought a former General Motors plant in Rayong, east of Bangkok, as a base for its expansion into Southeast Asia,” according to the Associated Press. Neta wants to produce 20,000 electric vehicles per year in Thailand.

In that year, “BYD announced that it would build an EV plant in Rayong province in eastern Thailand, marking the first time the automaker agreed to build a passenger EV factory outside of China with plastic injection moulding,” the Japanese news agency Nikkei said.

In the summer of 2017, “China’s Changan Automobile announced that it would invest ($270 million) in an EV plant in Thailand.”

China manufacturing batteries in Thailand

Thai officials recently welcomed Chinese investors to the high-tech Smart Park Industrial Estate, located in the Map Ta Phut economic zone in Rayong port on the Gulf of Thailand.

“Svolt Energy Technology, a Chinese manufacturer of batteries and energy storage systems, is spending ($34.7 million) to build an EV battery factory in Thailand’s east to serve both Chinese and Japanese carmakers,” according to China Global South’s research website.

Tesla executives were on a tour to an industrial state in December, accompanied by Prime Minister and then-Finance Minister Srettha Thavisin. He said in Thailand, extended families frequently pool their money and go into debt to afford payments on vehicles that are capable of withstanding monsoons, heat, and rural roads.

EVs are gaining popularity in Thailand, but some owners have complained that electric charging facilities are difficult to locate outside of Bangkok.

Southeast Asia is prone to floods, EV’s nemesis, which may dampen enthusiasm among the region’s 600 million residents.

EV motorcycles, three-wheel scooters, and public buses may become more popular in cities because recharging, frequently by swapping batteries at specified locations, is easier and faster.

Source: Asia Times

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