Five reasons why Thailand’s auto industry is on the fast lane to EV kingdom

POSTED BY Yamin Vong ON 10 June 2019


Thailand looks likely to be an Electric Vehicle (EV) kingdom much faster than any other nation in Asean.

On a personal level, credit must be given to Elon Musk. After he visited Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha in 2016, the Thai government unveiled its Electric Vehicle policy in March 2017, just in time to be presented at the Bangkok International Motor Show for our observation.

And the results?

Table: Thai manufacturers granted Thailand’s BoI EV incentives (as at May 2019)

Hybrid EV

Incl. battery

Plug in Hybrid EV

Incl. battery

Battery EV

Incl. battery

Lithium ion battery
Toyota TMT

19,02 billion THB

(RM2.5 billion)

Mercedes-Benz MBT

607 million THB

(RM81 million)


716 million THB

(RM95 million)

Beta Energy Solution

1,1billion THB

(RM146 million)



Nissan NT

10,96 billion THB

(RM1.5 billion)


705 million THB

(RM93 million)

Toyota TMT Thonburi Energy Storage Manufacturing

600 million THB

(RM80 million)

Honda HAT

5,82 billion THB

(RM774 million)

SAIC Motor-CP (MG)

1,36 billion THB

(RM181 million)

Energy Absolute

2 billion THB

(RM266 million)

Mazda MT

11,50 billion THB

(RM1.5 billion)

Toyota TMT Global Power Synergy

1.48 billion THB

(RM197 million)

Mitsubishi MMT

3,53 billion THB

(RM470 million)


Mine Mobility Research
Tentative plans from Manufacturers not yet approved by BoI

Table compiled by Mr Urs Muller, Email: [email protected]

“Basically, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, MG and Mitsubishi will not only produce in Thailand different EVs but also EV batteries, traction motors, AC/DC converter, inverter and Battery Management Systems,” said Urs Muller, a veteran automotive industry consultant focusing on the Asean region.

Eight of the world’s ranking car companies and four EV battery makers have proposed to invest RM7.88 billion over the next five years to 2025.

There are five reasons for Thailand’s success in the EV sector in the automotive industry:

  1. The policy’s incentives are published in full detail in the Board of Investment (BoI) website, with a version in English. All incentives are transparently granted.
  2. The incentives are given on a level playing field and all investors are treated equally.
  3. There is no “National Car” policy.
  4. Thailand with 70 million population is twice Malaysia’s
  5. Elon Musk’s visit to PM Prayut Chan-o-Cha who in turn inspired the Thai Board of Investment to refresh the Thai auto industry with EVs.

Thailand’s automotive sales last year totaled at 1,039,158 units, which is a 19% increase compared to the previous year, thanks to various stimulating economic measures by the Thai Government that have eventually contributed to the GDP growth of 4.2%. Exports will add 1.14 million units to the total manufacturing output of the Thai automotive industry last year.

This is the third time for the Thai automotive industry to hit over one million sales in the history of the Thai market.”

Mr. Michinobu Sugata, President of Toyota Motor Thailand, announced the 2018 car sales performance as well as Thailand’s automotive market projection in 2019, on 22 January 2019. Historically and to date, TMT is the custodian of the sales data of the Thai automotive industry.

For 2019 automotive industry outlook, Mr. Sugata projected, “We expect that the Thai automotive industry will maintain the 1 million unit level as long as the current favorable conditions continue in Thailand, such as government spending to stimulate investment from the private sector and the introduction of new models by various carmakers.”

Mr. Sugata added, “At Toyota, we find ourselves continuously confronted by new technological advancements and emerging automotive trends. That is why we are now challenging ourselves to transform from a car manufacturer and seller into a mobility company, resulting in our attempt to seek to provide all kinds of services related to transportation in Thailand.

“Additionally, Toyota always gives priority to technological development as well as responding to the government policy of making Thailand a global green automotive production base. Therefore, we are going to start our battery localization for hybrid electric vehicles at our Gateway manufacturing plant in Chachengsao province, starting from May this year. Moreover, Toyota will initiate Battery Life Cycle Management which includes the following;


  1. Rebuilt: In this process, we will bring the claimed batteries to carefully check whether the modules (cells) are still usable or unusable. Then, we will gather the usable ones to rebuild as batteries for after sales.


  1. Reuse: We bring the usable batteries that still work efficiently to assemble in the Battery Management System (BMS) that controls the electricity operation in order to utilize as energy storage.


  1. Recycle: For the unusable modules, we will send them to recycle process. The modules will be burned so that we can sort out the usable elements. These elements will then be utilized as raw materials to build the new batteries.


“We believe that the combination of the Battery Localization and the 3R scheme is significant to the society. These projects can minimize the waste and contribute to the circular economy in Thailand from the environment friendly point-of-view. These can also help reduce battery import and our customers’ cost of ownership of our Hybrid EV’s,” he said.