Eco-cars lead way in B90bn projects

Eco-cars lead way in B90bn projects

The Board of Investment (BoI) has approved investment applications worth nearly 90 billion baht, mainly for companies making environmentally friendly cars or involved in renewable energy.

Visitors to the 2010 Bangkok International Motor Show inspect an eco-car. Six projects worth 52.7 billion baht have been approved for the second phase of the eco-car scheme as Thailand hopes to become a hub for environmentally friendly vehicles. NATTHI AMPRIWAN

Secretary-general Udom Wongviwatchai said the BoI approved investment applications worth 89.7 billion baht at Friday's meeting chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The investment is mainly for 18 large projects, with six worth a combined 52.7 billion baht slated for the second phase of the eco-car scheme.

Ford Thailand will spend 18.2 billion baht to make environmentally friendly cars, with annual production capacity of 180,000 vehicles and 2,000 engines.

Its US peer General Motors will invest 13.1 billion baht to make 158,000 vehicles annually.

Nissan Motor will invest 6.86 billion baht to produce 123,000 eco-cars and 2 million auto parts a year, while Toyota Motor Corporation will invest 1.9 billion baht to make 160,000 vehicles a year.

Meanwhile, Mitsubishi Motors (Thailand) will invest 4.9 billion baht to make 233,000 eco-cars a year.

Mitsubishi also on Friday asked for the BoI's approval for its plans to expand production capacity granted in the first phase of the eco-car scheme to 220,000 vehicles from a planned 180,000, requiring investment of 7.7 billion baht.

Thailand launched the first phase of the scheme in 2007, attracting investment of 28.8 billion baht from Mitsubishi, Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Suzuki.

Ten car makers including the five existing eco-car manufacturers officially applied in April for the second phase of the eco-car scheme, with total expected investment of 139 billion baht.

The 10 projects are set to produce 1.58 million eco-cars, with investment about 110 billion baht greater than the combined outlay from the five manufacturers in the first phase.

The existing five manufacturers are prepared to invest 86.8 billion baht for the production of 753,000 eco-cars, while the five newcomers are prepared to spend 52 billion to roll out 828,000 vehicles, the BoI said earlier.

Deputy Prime Minister MR Pridiyathorn Devakula said the latest BoI approval meant Thailand could become an eco-car hub.

Mr Udom said Thailand's automotive production was expected to reach 2 million vehicles annually over the next three years — 500,000 from the first phase of the eco-car project and 1.5 million from the second phase.

"Although Indonesia is revving up its eco-car production, we expect its production scale is not yet large enough to compete with Thailand's production," he said.

Other projects approved by the BoI include Bang Pa-In Cogeneration Co's power plant worth 5.34 billion baht and K.R. One Co's wind plant worth 6.2 billion baht.

Businessman Chang Hsien-ming will invest 2.45 billion baht in Chon Buri to manufacture 80,000 tonnes of steel parts and 4,000 tonnes of industrial machinery a year, while Thai Asahi Kasei Spandex Co will produce 3,700 tonnes of spandex thread a year worth 1.2 billion baht.

MMTH Engine Co will make 1.19 million plastic parts a year with an investment of 1 billion baht.

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