Ministry to establish EV panel within 3 months

Ministry to establish EV panel within 3 months

An EV sign at the Thailand International Motor Expo. There is pressure for the government to upgrade production. (Bangkok Post photo)
An EV sign at the Thailand International Motor Expo. There is pressure for the government to upgrade production. (Bangkok Post photo)

The Industry Ministry expects to complete establishment of the National New Generation Vehicle Committee within three months after the government requested this matter through two public and private agencies.

In early September, the Thailand Automotive Institute (TAI) under the Industry Ministry proposed a committee be established to drive the government's electric vehicle (EV) scheme and increase sales as the market develops.

Yesterday, the Thailand Potential Development Network called for progress on the issue as it has witnessed slow development of the EV market.

Moreover, some car makers are postponing their investment plans after the government denied their volume requests to import EVs without duties.

Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit said the new committee will gather officials from three ministries -- Industry, Energy and Transport -- to work on this request.

"The ministry will propose Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak approve this committee very soon, and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will also be informed," he said.

"The ministry agrees to speed up EV policies as this sector has been promoted as a targeted industry under the S-curve policy."

The EV scheme was launched by the Board of Investment (BoI) in late March 2017 to open investment applications from car makers. Eligible EVs are hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery versions.

The BoI reported 13 companies were granted EV privileges, including Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, SAIC Motor-CP, FOMM, Mitsubishi and Mine Mobility.

According to the TAI, it has a long-term roadmap for Thailand to become a production hub for EVs in Southeast Asia, with a goal to produce 2.5 million cars in 2030. Of the goal, 1.5 million cars are set for domestic sale.

Somchai Sarovat, chairman of the Thailand Potential Development Network, said the network is also calling for a clear-cut plan because the government allows three various versions of EVs, while each car maker can invest to assemble the lowest technology -- hybrid EVs -- not the highest version as the government expected.

"The network is requesting the government should support the only highest technology -- battery EVs," said Mr Somchai.

"The EV technology is changing very fast on a global level and disrupting car and component production."

He said the government should revise the EV policies to have a single direction and be in line with global changes.

Mr Somchai said current EV policies have no committee taking responsibility or following up, while the three ministries have no power to make decisions or take action.

"The network wants to see new battery-powered cars on local roads," he said.

"Otherwise, Thailand will be left behind neighbouring countries where their governments are speeding up laying the foundation for EVs.

"Vietnam expects to launch locally assembled EVs as a national car brand."


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