Toyota Motor Thailand has submitted its investment plan for the government's electric vehicle (EV) scheme to localise manufacturing of new eco-friendlier vehicles here.
Chatchai Taveesakulvadchara, executive vice-president for the Thai unit of the Japanese carmaker, said it submitted two applications to produce plug-in hybrid and battery EVs to the Board of Investment (BoI).
The application period ended on Dec 28.
In 2017, Toyota applied to the BoI for hybrid EV production and won privileges for a project with total investment of 19 billion baht at the Gateway plant in Chachoengsao.
In the current application, Toyota plans to assemble 7,000 hybrid EVs a year, making 70,000 batteries for EVs and producing other parts such as doors, bumpers and front/rear axles, totalling 9.1 million units as well as making batteries for hybrid cars.
Toyota started production for this project in early 2018 to assemble the CH-R and Camry, including other new models in the future.
"For two projects of plug-in hybrid and battery EVs, Toyota cannot disclose its budget spending as it is conducting a feasibility study to implement these two projects at the Gateway plant," said Mr Chatchai.
"Toyota is very keen on these eco-friendlier vehicles in the Thai market, but the plug-in hybrid cars seem to come with more possibilities than battery EVs which rely on widespread charging stations."
Furthermore, Toyota is being promoted for new special economic zones in the flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme with its two plants in Chachoengsao -- the Ban Pho and Gateway plants, where there are manufacturing facilities for pickups and passenger cars.
The carmaker has a 21-billion-baht project for hybrid electric vehicles under way.
The EEC Policy Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, will acknowledge and approve the new special economic zones this month.
Mr Chatchai said these special economic zones will be on top of Toyota's projects for all EV types.
"Two plants are also being studied regarding how Toyota can implement them for the special economic zones to support the EEC, so both EV plans and local facilities will spend longer than six months concluding for Toyota's future directions."
President Michinobu Sugata said Toyota will start the battery manufacturing for hybrid EVs at the Gateway in May.
Toyota will also initiate the battery life-cycle management at its plant as it gives priority to technological development as well as responding to the government policy of making Thailand a global green automotive production base.
"The battery life cycle management will come with the 3R scheme -- rebuild, reuse and recycle -- and the plan will be disclosed sometime in the second half," said Mr Sugata.
Separately, Toyota sets its domestic sales target at 330,000 units in 2019, a 4.7% rise from last year.
In 2019, it aims to sell 120,400 units of passenger cars, a 7.1% increase while pickup trucks are projected for 154,000 units with a 2.0% rise.
But Toyota projects the overall local car market in 2019 to be maintained at 1 million units, a 3.8% drop.
Mr Sugata said the local market will suffer some negative impacts from the US-China trade war while internal risks include an uptrend in interest policy and the tightening of approval of car leasing loans.
But Thailand still has many favourable conditions such as government spending to stimulate investment from private companies and the introduction of new models by various carmakers.
In 2018, Toyota reported sales of 315,113, up 31.2% from the previous year. It captured a 30.3% market share, a gain of 2.8 percentage points over 2017.
The company projects shipments of 270,000 units in 2019, a drop of 8% compared with the previous year, with an export value of 137 billion baht as a consequence of ongoing economic challenges in the Middle East and Central and South America.
Toyota reported total exports of 293,940 units last year, down 1.8% from 2017, valued at 155 billion baht.