With its advantages in automobile manufacturing and preferential tariff policies, Thailand is emerging as an important destination for China’s new energy vehicle makers to begin exploring international markets.
The ATTO 3 is the first electric vehicle launched by BYD in Thailand, with a price of 1,199,900 baht ($33,638). The car went on sale in Thailand on October 10 this year, and November 1 was the first day when it began to accept reservations.
“The team outside a BYD exhibition hall has been lined up since the early hours of the morning. Because there were too many buyers, the store staff started issuing numbers. The ATTO 3 is very popular because it is beautiful, affordable and subsidized,” a Chinese resident of Bangkok told Time News.
Chinese automobile brands that are also popular in Thailand include SAIC MG and Great Wall Motor. SAIC is one of the first Chinese car companies to successfully enter the Thai market. Since 2012, SAIC has set up joint ventures with Charoen Pokphand Group, a well-known Thai enterprise. In 2014, MG, a brand owned by SAIC, entered the Thai market. SAIC MG sold 31,005 cars in Thailand in 2021, ranking among the top 10 auto brands in the country.
Since Great Wall Motor entered the Thai market last year until September this year, more than 10,000 units of its NEV models have been sold locally. In August this year, Ora Good Cat model, with a price of 989,000-1.199 million baht, sold out from many sites in Bangkok. Great Wall Motor has a factory in Thailand, which has been put into production. 60% of the cars produced will be sold in Thailand and 40% will be exported to other markets.
This year, the success of SAIC and Great Wall Motor in the Thai market has attracted the attention of more Chinese car companies. At the end of August this year, the right-hand rudder version of NETA V was launched in Thailand. At the beginning of September, the first overseas passenger car factory wholly invested in by BYD arrived in Thailand.
Thailand’s remarkable advantages in automobile manufacturing are one of the reasons to attract various automobile companies to settle down local operations. According to data from the ASEAN Automobile Federation (AAF), in 2021, automobile production in Southeast Asia reached 3.54 million units, 1.69 million of which were from Thailand. 960,000 cars produced in Thailand were exported to other markets.
“Thailand’s economy developed rapidly before the Asian financial crisis in 1997. The automobile foundation and perfect auto parts system are an important basis for attracting automobile companies to carry out production in Thailand,” said Cui Dongshu, the secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association.
In addition, Thailand has decided to exempt important EV components from import duties from 2022 to 2025, including batteries, traction motors, compressors, battery management systems, drive control units and reducers. According to an official plan, the penetration rate of EVs in Thailand will reach 50% by 2030, and it will become an important production base of clean energy vehicles in Southeast Asia.
Japanese fuel-based vehicle brands have long occupied more than 90% of the Thai market share. However, some local residents said that the new energy vehicles made by BYD and NETA are more cost-effective due to their fuel-saving capabilities, subsidies, and ability to adapt to the local environment, climate and living conditions.