Thailand Plots Course for An Electric Vehicle Future

Thailand Plots Course for An Electric Vehicle Future
Thailand Plots Course for An Electric Vehicle Future

The Thai government is planning for 1.2 million electric vehicles in Thailand by 2036 and up to 1,000 charging stations to support them. A roadmap approved by the National Energy Policy Council sees the EVs introduced in three phases. It will begin this year with 200 electric bus fleets operating by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority, The Nation newspaper reports.

“We would like electric vehicles to happen fast and hence we have come up with a clear-cut road map, because the world’s trend is moving that way,” Energy Minister General Anantaporn Kanjanara is quoted as saying: “By 2036, there will be 1.2 million EVs in Thailand. They will need at least 700, 800 or even 1,000 charging stations.” Twarath Sutabutr, Director General of the Energy Policy and Planning Office, says during the first phase officials will prepare related infrastructure, taxation, laws, regulations and service-fee structures. Deployment of EVs will be expanded during the second phase from 2017 to 2019, when the private sector will be allowed to get involved, but this will be limited to public fleets.

EV use will be opened to the public in the third phase in 2020 when the government says it will offer support to help develop basic infrastructure, smart charging and vehicle-togrid systems. Meantime, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed the Ministry of Industry to devise a plan to promote investment in automotive industry with a focus on the manufacturing of future cars. The government’s National News Bureau says the Prime Minister has met with CEOs from Toyota, Isuzu, Nissan and Honda to exchange opinions about automakers’ problems and obstacles in doing business in Thailand. He has told the executives that the government is urgently revising regulations while promoting free and fair trade in support of foreign investment in Thailand.

Prayut wants Thai automakers to make the country a production hub of the “cars of the future.” He has told the Ministry of Industry and other agencies to offer a promotional package to launch next year. Commerce Ministry Permanent Secretary Chutima Bunyapraphasara tells The Nation the CEOs assured Prayut of their continued investment in Thailand and will continue to develop the cars of future – hybrids and vehicles powered by electricity or hydrogen. The four automotive CEOs told Prayut they view Thailand as a manufacturing base with solid support from the domestic market.

If the government has a new policy, they are ready to make the needed investment, Chutima says. Toyota, Isuzu, Nissan and Honda together account for 58% of Thailand’s auto exports, shipping 1.25 million units, led by pickup trucks, in 2015. The main markets for eco-cars are other ASEAN members, Australia, the Middle East, New Zealand and Mexico.