The Electric Vehicle Assn. of Thailand says given its market size, the EV take-up rate in the Southeast Asian country is too low.
Land Transport Dept. data show there are 102,408 hybrid-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles on Thai roads along with 1,394 battery-electric vehicles.
Sales of HEVs and PHEVs last year rose 24.7% to 11,945 units, while 165 BEV deliveries were down from 161 in 2016.
This compares to an overall market up 13.3% last year to 870,748 units.
But EVAT President Yossapong Laoonual tells the Bangkok Post newspaper the HEV and PHEV markets are expanding.
The government wants 1.2 million EVs and 690 charging stations operating by 2036 and the Board of Investment last year approved incentives for EVs, including tax holidays of five to eight years for auto and parts makers.
Three HEV models have been locally assembled since 2009: the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan X-Trail.
Mercedes-Benz assembled its BlueTEC hybrid engines in Thailand in 2013 before upgrading to the PHEV platform in 2016. It now produces four EV models.
BMW began PHEV assembly in Thailand in 2016.
Toyota, which assembles 7,000 HEVs a year and makes 70,000 EV batteries, was the only automaker to receive Board of Investment privileges for HEVs last year.
Yossapong tells the newspaper he sees PHEVs being the game-changer in creating demand for charging stations in metropolitan and urban areas.
“There were zero charging stations at the beginning of 2015, and today there are almost 200 stations in Bangkok,” he says. “Private firms have developed and constructed 60%, while the rest were subsidized by the government.”
The 83-member EVAT was formed at the end of 2015 to promote EV manufacturing, research and development in Thailand.
Elsewhere, the government Energy Policy and Planning Office’s (EPPO) Energy Conservation Fund has given TB42.5 million ($1.5 million) to government agencies, state-owned enterprises and private firms to construct public charging stations.
It subsidized 94 stations last year, including 53 private firms, 21 government agencies and 20 state-owned enterprises. In March the fund will hand out TB20 million ($636,100) for another 31 charging stations.
Yossapong tells the newspaper EPPO expects 150 EV stations to be in operation by 2018 through the fund’s support.
He says the number of EV motorists is increasing and the number of stations is rapidly becoming insufficient, predicting “the private sector will jump into expanding the number of charging outlets.”