Lexus pushes Thai plug-in hybrids

Lexus pushes Thai plug-in hybrids

Vehicles suitable for the local market

A visitor browses an electric vehicle displayed at Motor Expo 2021. (Photo:  Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
A visitor browses an electric vehicle displayed at Motor Expo 2021. (Photo:  Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The domestic car market is suitable for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) rather than battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs) because of limitations in the EV infrastructure, which is usually centred in big cities, says Toyota's luxury car unit Lexus.

PHEVs, which run on both batteries and internal combustion engines (ICEs), are an appropriate choice for most Thai motorists as they allow a long driving distance without worrying about finding EV charging outlets, said Surasak Suthongwan, executive vice-president of Lexus Group under Toyota Motor Thailand Co.

The insufficient number of EV charging stations is one factor making prospective Thai car buyers reluctant to buy BEVs, which run completely on batteries.

Thailand needs to improve its EV infrastructure to facilitate EV drivers, especially providing more charging stations across the country, said Mr Surasak.

He said BEVs better match motorists in cities like Bangkok where they can find charging facilities more easily.

Many motorists in upcountry areas tend to use cars for commercial purposes, so ICE-powered vehicles meet their requirements, said Mr Surasak.

Toyota agrees with the Thai government's planned promotion of the EV industry domestically. The government wants to join the international community in adopting more environmentally friendly technology.

Thai authorities initially set a target to have EVs make up 30% of total car manufacturing or around 750,000 of 2.5 million units by 2030.

However, the authorities decided to increase the target to 50% on March 24, following the rapid growth of EVs in many countries, especially in Europe.

The Finance Ministry may consider lowering the import duty on EVs as part of measures to promote their use, said a ministry source earlier who requested anonymity.

Some countries have policies to ban ICE-powered cars. The EU and the US aim to have EVs make up at least 50% of cars by 2030.

Toyota Motor Thailand is promoting the Lexus brand during the 12-day Motor Expo. It wants to showcase innovative PHEV technology in Lexus cars.

The company expects to sell 600 Lexus cars in 2021.

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