EA allots B1.5bn for electrified boats, cars

EA allots B1.5bn for electrified boats, cars

Vehicles available in local market in Q4

An artist's rendition of EA's boat, which is expected to ply the Chao Phraya River offering public transport.
An artist's rendition of EA's boat, which is expected to ply the Chao Phraya River offering public transport.

SET-listed Energy Absolute Plc (EA) plans to allocate 1.5 billion baht for its new electrified boats and cars, expected to be available in the local market in the fourth quarter.

The move comes after the Board of Investment (BoI) granted incentives for three projects involving electric vehicles (EVs).

In 2018, EA and its subsidiaries won BoI privileges to manufacture lithium-ion batteries (worth 2 billion baht) in May, construction of EV charging stations (1.092 billion baht) in November, and an R&D unit for full EVs (130 million baht) in December.

For the electrified boats and cars, the subsidiary Mine Mobility Research Co is in charge of research, development and design.

Amorn Sapthaweekul, EA's deputy chief executive, said 1 billion baht of the total budget is allotted for electrified boats by sourcing vital parts (lithium-ion batteries, electric motors and aluminium bodies) and hiring some 4-5 dockyards to assemble its designed boats.

"At the initial stage, EA will import many parts from Taiwan before the new facility for lithium-ion batteries in Chachoengsao is complete," he said.

Mr Amorn said EA will become a public transport operator, running a route between Nonthaburi and Wat Rajsingkorn on the Chao Phraya River, similar to the one now plied by Chao Phraya Express Boat Co.

"EA has to finish the boat assembly before applying for a transport licence from the Marine Department," he said.

"The air-conditioned boat will have a capacity of 200 passengers and comes with batteries comprising 800 kilowatt-hour (kWh) and two electric motors at 180kWh."

Mr Amorn said EA plans for 54 assembled boats, 20-25 of which will be ready for operation in the fourth quarter of 2019.

For boat fares, the company plans to charge 15-32 baht per trip, equal to other operators.

The remaining 500 million baht of the allocated budget will go to new EVs to be sold in the fourth quarter of this year as well.

Mr Amorn said Mine Mobility Research will develop the pre-production EV to be showcased at the auto show in late March.

"Multi-purpose vehicle is the first EV segment designed for commercial sale and EA plans to offer an affordable price below 1 million baht," he said. The EV will be equipped with 35kWh batteries.

Mr Amorn said EA is seeking a local auto assembler to be its partner for the EV project.

"The initial capacity is set at 3,000-5,000 EVs per year," he said.

For manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries, the project is constructing an energy storage facility in Chachoengsao, including for lithium-ion batteries, within the Eastern Economic Corridor.

EA entered a joint venture with Taiwan's Amita Technologies to develop 50 gigawatt-hour (GWh) lithium-ion batteries.

The first phase will have a capacity of 1GWh and commence commercial operation in the second half of 2019. This phase will generate power.

The second phase will come with a capacity of 49GWh and commence commercial operation in 2021, producing components to be installed in EVs.

Energy Mahanakhon, another EA subsidiary, plans to set up 3,000 charging stations under the EA Anywhere brand nationwide. The stations are compatible with plug-in hybrids and battery EVs.

Mr Amorn said charging stations have been expanded to 300 locations so far and EA plans to have 1,000 charging stations by the end of this year.

He said EA is developing higher-value biodiesel products -- bio-hydrogenated diesel and phase change materials.

The production facility for biodiesel products is located in Rayong province, with a capacity of 130 tonnes per day for purified crude palm oil.

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