FTI says country needs to step up EV development
Thailand must speed up its electric vehicle (EV) development to stay ahead of Indonesia if it still wants to become a regional EV production hub, says the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).
While Thailand is good at manufacturing cars and auto parts, Indonesia is rich in the resources required to serve the EV industry.
"Indonesia is a strong competitor because it has a key raw material needed for EV battery production," said Kriengkrai Thiennukul, chairman of the FTI, referring to nickel, which is used in lithium batteries.
"We have to step up efforts to develop our EV industry, taking advantage of our strength as a centre of car production and supply chains."
Thailand is the largest car manufacturer in Asean and is ranked fifth in Asia and 11th in the world, said Mr Kriengkrai. Its major car production status has long earned it the moniker "the Detroit of Asia".
Thailand produces around 1.8 million cars a year at present, which is below the 2 million recorded in some other years, although its full production capacity stands at 3 million per year, according to the FTI.
With a growing trend in electric mobility technology, Thailand has the potential to become a major production base for EVs, said Mr Kriengkrai during a seminar titled "Stronger Thailand".
Mr Kriengkrai believes car and auto parts factories, with manufacturing currently geared towards internal combustion engine technology, can adapt to the growing demand for more eco-friendly EVs as the world is becoming more serious in dealing with carbon dioxide emissions.
Global automakers have continued to invest in Thailand and develop automotive technology. This will benefit Thailand and pave the way for the production of EVs.
EV sales have continued to grow in Thailand, with EV bookings rising to around 10,000 units a year, compared with around 1,000 units a year in Indonesia, said Mr Kriengkrai.
The Thai government has so far promoted the EV industry by listing it among 12 S-curve industries to be developed within the Eastern Economic Corridor.
Last year, the National EV Policy Committee announced that it wanted EVs to constitute 50% of locally made vehicles by 2030, part of an ambitious plan to make Thailand a regional EV production hub.
In February this year, the cabinet also approved a package of incentives including tax cuts and subsidies to promote EV consumption and production during 2022 to 2023.