Egat plans to convert used cars into EVs
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Egat plans to convert used cars into EVs

A fleet of EV buses at an Egat power plant. The agency plans to turn used cars into electric vehicles.
A fleet of EV buses at an Egat power plant. The agency plans to turn used cars into electric vehicles.

The state-run Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) plans to develop electric vehicles (EVs) by modifying used cars, aiming for commercial sales in 2020.

Egat wants to modify combustion cars to EVs during a trial period to determine the appropriate cost of modification.

Jiraporn Sirikum, assistant governor for research, innovation and business development, said Egat is teaming up with the National Science and Technology Development Agency to modify three subcompact cars -- Toyota Vios, Honda Jazz and Nissan Almera -- for the trial.

"The cost to modify used cars is expected to be around 300,000 baht to install vital EV components, such as lithium-ion batteries and electric motors, compared with around 500,000 baht before," Ms Jiraporn said. "The price of batteries has declined globally. This will be much cheaper than buying new EVs. For example, a new Tesla costs over 3 million baht."

The modification plan is also aimed at increasing the number of EVs on local roads at a faster pace than waiting for new launches of EV models.

Ms Jiraporn said Egat will invite private garages to take part in the project.

In March, Egat tested 23 EV buses at its power plants nationwide for the trial period.

All EV buses were studied using both normal and quick-charging systems.

Egat's EV plan is part of research and development activities supported by a budget allocation of 3% of annual net profit.

Furthermore, innovation has been emphasised over the past three years with a budget of 1 billion baht annually.

In a related development, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has launched the ERC Sandbox to support innovative research projects in the country's energy and power sectors.

State agencies, educational institutions and local companies can join the ERC Sandbox project to pitch their conceptual proposals until June 28.

ERC will select eligible applicants by Aug 30.

The commission is conducting peer-to-peer energy trading as a new power market structure in preparation for the open market in the country's power sector in the near future.

Ms Jiraporn said Egat is interested in joining the ERC Sandbox project, as well as power trading. EV and micro grid activities are being considered for participation.

Moreover, Egat itself is transforming into a leaner and more flexible organisation to handle the disruption of power technologies.

The agency plans to trim staff from 22,000 to 15,000 by 2023 in a bid to make decisions for important projects more flexible.

Egat is proceeding to make the power generation system nationwide more flexible and to deal with the advent of renewable power resources.

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