Electric Vehicles – the future is here…

The Industrial Ministry believes that EV is the future of motoring in Thailand. (Photo: The Courier)

… but the prices of these vehicles and Thailand’s infrastructures limits domestic acquisitions.

Thailand’s proposed car trade-in programme, initially planned for stimulating car purchases in 2021 has resulted in electric vehicles (EV) and is becoming the talk-of-the-town.

Although the plan was put on hold, so more studies can be carried out, particularly in relation to whether the programme should include EVs, Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit stressed that EVs are the future of motoring in Thailand.

The future of EV sales should become clearer once the government and carmakers reached an agreement when they meet next month regarding the proposal of imposing a higher excise tax on vehicles with internal combustion engines in an effort to promote more environmentally friendly vehicles, which is obviously, the EVs.

However, it remains uncertain whether EVs are going to become a major trend in 2021 because business operators in the automotive industry have reacted differently in their responses to requests for comment, even with government eagerness to promote EVs.

President of the Electric Vehicle Association of Thailand (EVAT) Mr Krisda Utamote believes it is possible to achieve a substantial sales margin as the number of new registered EVs in Thailand has increased sharply this year.

Mr Krisda is also optimistic about EV purchases as he expects the prices of some models to become more affordable in the future. For example, the electric station wagon manufactured by Morris Garage (MG), should be priced less than 1 million baht per unit, he said.

Meanwhile, on Dec 22 PM Prayut Chan-o-cha presided over the launch of a trial service of electric ferries operating on the Chao Phraya River, aimed at promoting the use of clean energy.

The launch of an electric ferry service along the Chao Phraya River could raise public awareness of the benefits of electric vehicles. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Prior to that, the prime minister also introduced an electric boat service offered by City Hall that runs along a five-kilometre stretch of the Phadung Krung Kasem canal.

The boats provide commuter services, connecting passengers with the MRT subway system and Chao Phraya River taxis. A total of eight boats were scheduled to service the route.

In addition, the public bus system could also be the next area for EV development, although authorities will first need to consider in revising the conditions for bus acquisitions.

Mr Krisda thinks the public bus system is the next area for EV development.  (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

On the contrary, Vice-chairman Surapong Paisitpatanapong of the automotive club of the Federation of Thai Industries believes the EV industry will not grow that quick over the next 3-5 years because a shift to EVs will depend greatly on vehicle price. It will only gradually gain more market share in the domestic market.

“State policy and prices of EV technology will determine demand for EVs,” he said.

The government should support construction of EV infrastructure, notably charging outlets, as well as use tax incentives to attract prospective buyers, Surapong added.

Yet most EVs are still very expensive, with prices over 1 million baht per unit.

“Only a small group of motorists in Thailand can afford to buy them,” said Surapong.

The behaviour and lifestyle of motorists is a key factor in whether they become a trend, said Siamnat Panassorn, who oversees engineering and business policy for Tri Petch Isuzu Sales Co. The company owns a large market share in the pickup segment. Many customers use pickups to deliver farm and consumer products, and often have to race to get jobs done quickly.

“If customers switch to use electric pickups, they may be concerned over the charging time required and charging outlet locations,” said Siamnat.

Original writers: Yuthana Praiwan and Lamonphet Apisitniran
Source: Bangkok Post