THE ELECTRIC VEHICLE IN THAILAND
The electric car market is expected to increase by 15- 20% year on year in 2022, despite the various factors that are hampering growth, not just in the car industry but in all areas where global supply chains are involved. China’s zero Covid-19 policy, its economic slowdown, which is projected in some quarters to get much worse, and the ongoing pressure on raw material supplies caused by the Russia-Ukraine war have all played a part in hindering growth in the Kingdom and elsewhere.
Despite this the appetite for the electric vehicle seems quite strong in Thailand. A majority of Thai drivers believe that they are more economical to drive, are better for the environment and will offer the right level of reliability in the future. There is, however, one enormous deal breaker, the lack of charging stations around the country. The last survey, from October 2021, reported that there were 774 charging stations throughout the country and the current estimate is around 1000. For a country with the population of Thailand and it’s geography, this is clearly inadequate. So although the outlook on the electric car is positive, only around 3% of car owners would consider buying an electric version over the next three years precisely because of the lack of proper infrastructure.
The Thai government have introduced a series of incentives to the market. These include subsidies of up to 150,000 Baht on a vehicle, depending on the make and model, and a lowering of the excise taxes and import duty for imported brands. Again these measures will only help the market if the basic problem of lack of charging stations is addressed first.
Both the Hybrid EV and plug-in Hybrid EV are proving more popular than the Battery EV at the moment, which again must be attributed to the lack of facilities around the country to get the vehicle re-charged. Even once these new stations have been brought in, the buying public will want some reassurance that they are actually going to be maintained and work efficiently.
The Thailand International Motor Expo, being held in Bangkok from the 1st until the 12th of December, will feature many electric models including some new models from China and Europe and is expected to boost the market.
Meanwhile Tesla have just given the first indication that they are entering the market in Thailand. They firstly registered their product for sale in the country and have now started advertising for staff in Bangkok. The real clincher for Tesla is when they plan to open a supercharger in the chosen country and although that hasn’t been announced yet, it seems to be on the way. It looks like the EV is here to stay in Thailand, but not yet!