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Chinese manufacturers’ BEV business development is accelerating in Asia, with BEV sales surging in Thailand.

Thailand, where Japanese automotive companies are concentrated, is trying to create a new economy and society by upgrading existing industries through technology, innovation and creativity.

In the automotive sector, BEVs are positioned as a pillar of the next-generation automobile industry, with a target of 30% of vehicle production to be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2030. To achieve this target, a series of investment incentives have been introduced to promote the localisation of BEVs and key electric components, in addition to subsidies to promote BEV sales. In the first nine months of 2023, the number of newly registered BEVs (private passenger cars with seven or fewer passengers) jumped 8.6 times year-on-year to 50 000 units, and the BEV ratio jumped from 1.2% to 9.6% in the same period last year.

The rapid expansion of the BEV market is being driven by Chinese automakers, with BYD, Hezhong Automobile (NETA), Shangqi Group (MG) and Great Wall Motor accounting for more than 80% of BEV sales share. All companies import and sell BEVs from China, but are subsidised to produce them locally from 2024, with sales prices ranging from 550,000 to 1.29 million baht (1 baht = approx. 4.16 yen). The top selling model is the BYD Atto3, with 18,000 new registrations in January-September 2023, accounting for 36% of the BEV sales share by this model alone; the Atto3’s subsidised sales price is 1.2 million baht, about 30% lower than the Tesla Model 3’s 1.66 million baht, and Toyota’s Corolla Cross HEV at 1.09 million baht, which is 10% higher than the Corolla Cross HEV at 1.09 million baht.

BYD is also offering an 8-year or 160,000 km vehicle/battery warranty, as well as a 1.68% 48-month loan rate, an 8-year home charger service and one year of free insurance/maintenance, to dispel concerns about battery degradation and quality, leading to strong order receipts. The car also clearly differentiates itself from conventional passenger cars with its unique design based on a sports and fitness concept and an intelligent cabin with the latest digital functions.

In Thailand, BYD, Hezhong Automobile (NETA), Shangqi Group (MG) and Great Wall Motor will start local BEV production in 2024, while other Chinese manufacturers such as Guangqi Dustan (GAC Aion) and Changan Automobile (Changan) have also announced local production plans, clearly demonstrating China’s leadership in the next-generation automotive industry. For Japanese manufacturers, which have had an overwhelming market share in ICE and HEVs, strengthening their business in Thailand and ASEAN has become an urgent issue.