Nissan coy about EV scheme

Nissan coy about EV scheme

Despite committing to the local launch of the Leaf battery electric vehicle by next March, Nissan Motor Thailand remains on the sidelines with regard to the government's EV scheme.

Each carmaker that joins the scheme for manufacturing battery EVs can import electrified models without a customs duty for market testing. Currently, all completely built-up cars are subject to the 80% duty.

The application deadline for the scheme is the end of 2018.

Nissan was, however, granted privileges by the Board of Investment (BoI) on July 25 to make hybrid EVs and batteries at the Japanese carmaker's plant in Samut Prakan, an investment worth 10.96 billion baht.

Nissan will make hybrid EVs based on its e-Power eco-friendly technology and plans to use domestic raw materials worth 15.92 billion baht annually.

President Antoine Barthes said Nissan is committed to introducing the best-selling Leaf in seven markets in Asia and Oceania, including Thailand, during the company's fiscal 2018, which ends next March.

"At this time, Nissan cannot disclose whether it will apply for the BoI's battery EV, as it is evaluating all related factors step by step, including the granted e-Power project," he said, adding that Nissan has yet to make a decision on how it will market the Leaf locally at a competitive and affordable price.

Mr Barthes said Nissan is working on implementing the e-Power project at its production facility on Bang Na-Trat Road after gaining the BoI privileges.

The company declined to disclose the future e-Power model to be localised at the Samut Prakan plant. But the e-Power system has been installed in the Note and the Serena in the global market, and only the Note is joining the government's eco-car scheme.

"Nissan will separate all applying projects -- the eco-car project 1 and 2 and the hybrid e-Power -- and we have yet to come to a conclusion on whether the Note will be available with the e-Power version," Mr Barthes said.

The BoI has said that each carmaker applying for both the eco-car and EV schemes can lump in hybrid production volume with the eco-car scheme.

The BoI's requirement for eco-car volume is a minimum of 100,000 units a year for 5-8 years of operations.

In related news, Nissan yesterday introduced the Thai-made Terra pickup passenger vehicle (PPV). The local production facility is in charge of Terra manufacturing to serve Southeast Asian countries.

In Thailand, the Terra is powered by a 2.3-litre diesel engine with a seven-speed automatic transmission, with prices starting at 1,316,000 baht.

Nissan will increase all retail prices by a further 50,000 baht next year.

In the PPV segment, Nissan is a new rival to five other brands: Toyota, Mitsubishi, Isuzu, Ford and Chevrolet. The model will be classed as a sport utility vehicle.

Mr Barthes said Nissan is confident in the Terra's ability to compete with other rivals in the segment.

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