Thailand is increasingly taking to plantderived biofuels for automobiles, with government support measures encouraging carmakers to debut vehicles that can use this form of renewable energy.
Daily consumption in the Southeast Asian nation surged 60% to 2.26 million litres in 2013. Automakers are rolling out offerings that can run on E85, a blend consisting of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Mazda began local output of E85-compatible Mazda3 subcompacts at the end of March. Honda offers E85-compatible versions of nearly all its mainstay vehicles, including the Civic. General Motors has begun launching autos that can burn E85, including the Chevrolet Captiva sport utility vehicle. The Thai government is offering subsidies for biofuel and tax breaks for vehicles powered by it. E85 cost half as much as ordinary high-octane gasoline at the start of May.
The excise tax stands at 30% for conventional automobiles, compared with just 22% for E85-compatible vehicles Thailand is a Southeast Asian leader in efforts to promote biofuels. It is ramping up production of sugar cane and cassava, raw materials for ethanol, thereby helping farmers. The government is also working to reduce dependence on gasoline, which is increasingly imported.
Sales of regular gasoline that does not include biofuels for autos came to an effective end in January 2013. The Energy Ministry seeks to lift daily biofuel consumption in the country to 6 million litres by 2021 — 2.7 times the 2013 level.