BMTA plan to purchase 500 electric buses approved
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BMTA plan to purchase 500 electric buses approved

The government on Friday gave the nod to the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) to buy 500 electric buses, paving the way to setting up a factory here.

Science and Technology Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj said an electric bus assembly facility was likely next year after the National Innovation Policy Committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-chan endorsed the BMTA’s plan to buy 500 of the vehicles.

The purchase plan will later be submitted to the cabinet for final approval.

Mr Pichet said Thailand has great potential to develop hybrid cars and electric vehicles (EVs).

The government also plans to encourage the private sector to develop electric trains in order to support the country’s ambitious rail development, he said.

In a bid to develop Thailand as a manufacturing hub for pickup trucks, hybrids and EVs, the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) and the Science and Technology Ministry signed a record of discussion last month with the Japan External Trade Organization and the Japanese embassy.

The deal will focus on upgrading human resources and research and development activities in Thai industries.

NESDB secretary-general Arkhom Termpitayapaisith said Japanese companies were willing to promote Thailand as a production hub for one-tonne pickup trucks, hybrids and EVs if the government offered import tariff and excise tax waivers for imported car prototypes and auto parts yet to be made in Thailand.

Japanese companies proposed the government develop testing centres for crash, high-speed, wind-tunnel, durability and emissions tests.

Giant Japanese car maker Toyota Motor Corporation recently said it was poised to invest in EV production here but wants the government to develop a supportive infrastructure first.

Toyota is confident about building a manufacturing facility here for hybrid vehicles and EVs, pending the government’s policy on them, said Soichiro Okudaira, senior managing officer and chief technical officer for Asia, Oceania and China.

However, Thailand has yet to develop electric charging stations for drivers.

They also asked Thailand to contribute funding for car companies to set up testing centres.

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