Energy Ministry touts Thailand as electric vehicle hub
The Energy Ministry plans to give its full support to promoting Thailand as an electric vehicle (EV) production hub.
Energy Minister Narongchai Akrasanee said his ministry would amend regulations and laws related to fuel retailers and electricity transmission to allow access to electricity chargers at petrol stations.
The policy is expected to help increase the sales of EVs at home, which would attract car makers to choose Thailand as a production base, he said.
In Thailand, an ambitious EV pilot project involves several car-related bodies including national oil and gas firm PTT Plc and the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA), whose seven electricity chargers are available for testing.
The charger units are in Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chon Buri and Rayong.
The MEA and PTT have researched EV and developed chargers over the past four years to be ready for a future EV launch.
"The Energy Ministry has suggested EVs should be a hybrid type such as a flex-fuel model, which can be switched from fuel to electricity, to be more practical, as the car can run longer destinations rather than making only short trips around city areas," Mr Narongchai said, adding that most of the chargers units were located in urban areas.
Since EV became a global trend, with the global automotive industry planning launches over the coming decades, Thai energy policymakers have discussed the issue with car-related agencies to pave the way to development of EV facilities, especially electricity chargers.
If the government EV programme runs smoothly, the first lot of EV production and sales could be launched within five years, Mr Narongchai said.
The Board of Investment is in talks with energy-related industries and policymakers about privileges to attract EV investment, said BoI deputy secretary-general Chokdee Kaewsang.
Crucial factors that would encourage investors to choose Thailand as a production base would include hefty demand in the domestic market, appropriate infrastructure and government support.
Mr Narongchai hinted that incentives to attract EV investors to use Thailand as a base could be launched by May.
The BoI has already launched incentives for makers of EV auto parts including batteries, traction motors and air conditioners.
It grants a lower excise tax of 10% for investors, even less than the 14% granted for eco-car investors.
Vehicles that would be classified as EVs include hybrids, flex-fuel vehicles, full electric cars and fuel-cell vehicles.
Mr Narongchai said up to half the EV output would likely be sold domestically, so the government's support in promoting the cars and the expansion of charger infrastructure would be crucial in making EVs a domestic success.
An International Energy Agency report said global sales volume of EVs could reach 6 million vehicles in 2020, up from 113,000 in 2012.