Calls for novel EV strategy to boost entire ecosystem
All businesses need to benefit, say groups
Thailand needs to adopt an effective electric vehicle (EV) strategy rather than just increasing the number of EVs on the road to benefit all businesses in the EV ecosystem, according to industry groups.
Potential beneficiaries in the ecosystem include car assemblers and electronics developers.
Watchara Chatwiriya, president of the Thai Embedded Systems Association (TESA), said some EV makers are testing non-critical EV functions in Thailand, such as door opening systems.
"Thailand can serve as a potential base for some assistance systems, such as navigation or infotainment, in the EV or unmanned vehicle segments," said Mr Watchara.
Some major automakers from Europe and Japan are keen to recruit software developers for EVs, he said.
The government's EV incentive package should pace demand for EVs in the country and benefit some local auto component makers, Mr Watchara said.
Yet the government still needs a strategy and vision to make Thailand a centre for EV manufacturing or development, he said.
To help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) recruit highly skilled software engineers for EV development, TESA is in discussions to establish a consortium with joint investment from public and private entities that would form a talent pool to support SMES' work.
Niti Mekmok, president of the Thai Internet of Things Association, said the EV incentives would help stimulate demand and push EV makers to raise production to meet customer demand.
"I want to see Thai-branded EVs that are designed and produced by Thais," said Mr Niti.
"The majority of auto parts should be made by local SMEs to meet global standards."
The incentives can spur the development of sensors and embedded systems for EVs, he said.
To promote EV usage and production in Thailand, Mr Niti said, the government should consider the whole EV ecosystem, such as the number and locations of EV charging depots, the readiness of the entire supply chain for EV production, EV standard examination centres, and the number and capability of technicians and engineers.
He wants to see the establishment of a joint committee with members drawn from all relevant sectors to move EV development forward.
The development of an EV ecosystem in Thailand means not only more EVs on the road, but also new opportunities for Thais in terms of income, support for environmentally friendly smart cities, and developing Thai EV brands, said Mr Niti.
He said Thailand has an advantage over its regional peers because the country served as an auto assembly base for a long time.
"Switching to the production and assembly of EVs may not be that difficult for Thai developers," said Mr Niti.
Yet the government must consider where the EV components should be sourced and how well related supply chains are managed, he said.
It is also vital to consider whether Thai SMEs are ready to adjust to EV production, said Mr Niti.
"If they cannot adapt or are slow to do so, how does the government plan to help them?" he asked.