BoI approves grant for Mazda hybrid EVs

BoI approves grant for Mazda hybrid EVs

Mr Chanchai, left, and Mr Inoue, centre, in front of the Mazda RX-Vision Coupe at the company's Asean Design Forum 2018, held in Bangkok on Wednesday.
Mr Chanchai, left, and Mr Inoue, centre, in front of the Mazda RX-Vision Coupe at the company's Asean Design Forum 2018, held in Bangkok on Wednesday.

Japanese carmaker Mazda Motor Corporation is poised to produce hybrid electric vehicles (EVs) in the country after the Board of Investment (BoI) granted a 11.48-billion-baht investment application.

On Monday the BoI is scheduled to have a board meeting chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, and it will consider many applications, including those for the EV scheme.

Chanchai Trakarnudomsuk, president of Mazda Sales Thailand, a local unit of the Hiroshima-based firm, said this investment plan includes the assembly of finished hybrid EVs and five vital EV parts -- batteries, traction motors, battery management services, AC/DC converters and inverters.

"Mazda is ready to implement the plan to become a building block for all eco-friendly vehicles," he said.

"Thailand has to start producing hybrid versions before improving the local industry and marketing plug-in hybrids and battery EVs in the future."

Mr Chanchai said the Thai government is working on improving the EV scheme to be fairer and more competitive for manufacturers, including offering approachable incentives for Thai motorists.

"To implement the EV policy, the government has to provide a three-year grace period for all stakeholders to prepare themselves, but in the short term, conventional cars remain a major contributor to the Thai market," he said.

Mazda makes the Mazda3 under the hybrid platform at its Hofu plant in Yamaguchi prefecture, which serves only the Japan market.

It is developing the Mazda2 EV and two hydrogen rotary engine vehicles -- Mazda Premacy and Mazda RX-8.

Hiroshi Inoue, president of Mazda Southeast Asia, said the carmaker has plenty of EV versions to serve the global market in the long run.

The parent firm aims to offer EV options for all models by fiscal 2030.

He said reducing CO2 emissions is the reason to produce EVs, while Mazda will base production decisions on the government's EV policies.

"For Thailand, Mazda is considering the country's power generation structure, 80% of which relies on fossil-based fuels, so the local market cannot support all battery EVs that will consume electricity, which would require power plants to release much more CO2 to generate power," he said.

"European countries generate electricity from nuclear power plants, which release less CO2, so carmakers can introduce battery EVs to those markets."

Mr Inoue said Mazda sales in Southeast Asia will rise to 200,000 cars by fiscal 2023, led by Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, where Mazda has manufacturing plants for finished cars.

"In this region, Mazda has had a compound sales growth rate in the last four years of 50%, so we will focus on increasing market share in each country to raise sales," he said.

Mazda expects to sell 129,000 units across the region in fiscal 2019, up by 12%.

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