Mazda applies for incentives to produce full EVs

Mazda applies for incentives to produce full EVs

Mazda's assembly production for Mazda 2 eco-car at AutoAlliance Thailand in Rayong. (Photo by Piyachart Maikaew)
Mazda's assembly production for Mazda 2 eco-car at AutoAlliance Thailand in Rayong. (Photo by Piyachart Maikaew)

After being granted investment privileges for manufacturing hybrid electric vehicles (EVs), Mazda Motor Corporation has decided to apply for production of full EVs in Thailand.

Chanchai Trakarnudomsuk, president of Mazda Sales Thailand, the local unit of the Hiroshima-based firm, said Mazda submitted the full EV application to the Board of Investment (BoI) on Dec 14.

He declined to disclose the budget for the full EV project, saying only that it's under discussion by the BoI and Mazda.

"Mazda has plenty of EV technologies to comply with the government's policy, although some EVs have yet to be sold commercially," Mr Chanchai said. "Mazda plans to start its EV business with Europe as the first continent."

Mazda has the Demio EV (also known as the Mazda2) with a driving range of 200 kilometres. The Demio EV was offered under a leasing programme to local government agencies and corporate customers in Japan in 2012.

Mazda uses a hydrogen rotary engine for the fuel-cell EV with the Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid and the RX-8 Hydrogen RE models.

Last November, the BoI granted Mazda privileges for its 11.48-billion-baht hybrid EV project through AutoAlliance Thailand, a joint venture of Mazda and Ford that makes 270,000 vehicles a year in Rayong province.

Mazda proposed a plan to localise assembly of finished cars and invest in essential EV components, expecting to use local components worth 19.5 billion baht a year.

Mr Chanchai said Mazda will implement the approved hybrid EV project during 2019-23.

For 2019, Mazda has set an ambitious target for local sales of 75,000 cars, up 6.4% year-on-year, and expects to hit an all-time high to eclipse the 2012 record of 73,764 units sold.

From the 2019 sales target, Mazda aims to capture a market share of 7.1-7.3%, up 0.4-0.6 percentage points from the year before.

Mr Chanchai said Mazda projects a flat local market in 2019 with 1.03-1.06 million cars sold, but the Japanese car maker plans to compete for market share.

"The car market in 2019 is facing many fragile factors such as the US-China trade war and pressure on Thai GDP, projected to expand 4%," he said. "But the country's household debt and rising policy interest rate will directly affect local consumers' decision to purchase new cars because financial institutions will tighten their approval of hire purchase loans and the financial cost for car buyers is expected to rise."

Mazda plans to launch six new and refreshed models in 2019, including the CX-8 and Mazda3.

Mazda reported yesterday that it sold 70,475 cars in 2018, up 37%, and it captured 6.7%, up 0.8 percentage points.

The Mazda2 remained the brand's top-selling model in the eco-car segment with 45,972 units sold, a 45% rise from the year before.

Overall car sales totalled 1.04 million units in 2018, surpassing the 1-million mark for the first time in five years, with sharp growth of 19%.

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