Producers bank on uptick in EV demand

Producers bank on uptick in EV demand

Visitors pack the Challenger halls at Impact Muang Thong Thani as the 44th Bangkok International Motor Show opens on Wednesday. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Visitors pack the Challenger halls at Impact Muang Thong Thani as the 44th Bangkok International Motor Show opens on Wednesday. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Global car manufacturers are hoping for strong sales of electric vehicles (EVs) in Thailand as the 2023 Bangkok International Motor Show commences on Wednesday.

Many companies have vowed to assemble EVs in Thailand to serve both domestic and overseas markets.

Tri Petch Isuzu, the local distributor of Japanese cars under the Isuzu brand, said its parent company plans to invest in EV manufacturing here and export the vehicles to Europe.

Electric pickups are the focus of Isuzu, which is developing battery-run D-Max EV, said Takashi Hata, president of Tri Petch Isuzu.

The company recently launched electric truck Elf EV in Japan.

"We will use Thailand as our EV battery production base for export once we see demand grow in Europe," he said.

In Thailand, people still prefer to buy oil-powered pickups.

Last year, Isuzu commanded the largest market share of 45.2% in the domestic pickup market, with sales of 175,425 units in the country.

This was the highest level of sales recorded by the company in 40 years.

Vice-president Takashi Kasahara said Isuzu expects the prolonged global semiconductor shortage to ease this year.

Chip scarcity has hampered the automotive industry, especially its EV segment.

"The semiconductor shortage has yet to recover 100%," he said.

Other economic factors like high inflation and household debt could also weaken consumer purchasing power, which could eventually affect car manufacturing, according to Isuzu.

However, the company remains positive about the growth of the Thai auto industry, which should be bolstered by the upcoming general election, said Mr Kasahara.

Giant automaker Toyota is also keen on developing and marketing EVs in Thailand.

Noriaki Yamashita, president of Toyota Motor Thailand, said the company plans to assemble EVs here, notably the electric Toyota Hilux, because Thailand can be developed into a large EV market in the region.

"Toyota is interested in investing in an EV manufacturing plant in Thailand, but the company needs to wait for significant growth in demand for EVs first," he said.

A clear government policy to promote the EV industry will be an important factor fuelling the growth of next-generation cars, said Grisnagorn Sawettanan, chief executive and director of Meister Technik, the authorised importer and distributor of Audi cars in Thailand.

The company is launching two EVs -- the Audi RS e-tron GT and A4 -- at the motor show.

The organiser of the 12-day event expects car bookings to increase by 10% this year, up from 33,000 units in 2022, generating more than 40 billion baht in value.

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