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Thailand in the Fast Lane: Will 2022 Witness a Staggering 50,000 EV Sales Despite Economic Hurdles?

As the clock ticks into the future of automotive evolution, the Thailand Automotive Institute (TAI) projects an impressive leap in electric vehicle (EV) sales. 2022 could mark a defining moment in Thailand’s automotive history with anticipated sales reaching a staggering 50,000 units. This audacious prediction stems from a backdrop of potential hurdles, such as dwindling consumer purchasing power, widespread household debt, and more stringent auto loan conditions dictated by major banking institutions.

Interestingly, the previous year recorded approximately 20,000 EV units sold locally in Thailand. This upward trend of EV adoption in the country can be traced to strategic government initiatives. The leadership, through a well-coordinated campaign, seeks to position Thailand as a formidable regional EV hub. Part of these plans culminated in last year’s cabinet assent on a series of incentive packages. These packages, laden with tax breaks and subsidies, were aimed at fostering the growth of EV manufacturing and consumption between 2022 and 2023.

President of TAI, Kriengsak Wongpromrat, while looking forward to the future of the Thai automotive industry, particularly singled out the EV sector. Kriengsak, with a notable air of optimism, expressed his anticipation for steady sales in this burgeoning industry.

Given the largely untapped EV market in Thailand, characterized by sizeable consumer spending, companies are ready to chart a course into these uncharted waters by injecting new EV models into the market in the second half of the year. Notably, EV imports from China are earmarked for the journey. The TAI president, in his projections, envisages a significant upturn in the market share for Chinese EV manufacturers — this is of course predicated on the assumed shift in consumer preferences from internal combustion engine (ICE) cars to EVs.

Moreover, Kriengsak unveiled that TAI, in collaboration with automobile firms, academic authorities, and EV engineers, is actively training Thai auto parts manufacturers on various aspects pertinent to EVs. This bold initiative is aimed at speeding up their shift from ICE vehicles to adopt advanced electric mobility technology, according to a report by Bangkok Post.

This learning program goes hand in hand with the authorities’ relentless drive to enhance Thailand’s domestic EV industry. In the first half of the year, the Board of Investment handed out investment promotion benefits to a total of 14 battery EV (BEV) manufacturers. The combined value of these incentivized projects stands at an astonishing 33.9 billion baht, with an expected annual production capacity of approximately 276,640 units.

The recipients of these EV incentive packages are obligated to establish EV assembly plants within Thailand, A development TAI predicts will yield the first locally made BEVs by the initial quarter of the coming year.

Despite this, the Federation of Thai Industries’ Automotive Industry Club has recently revised down its 2023 car production target from 1.95 million units to 1.9 million, provoked by the implementation of stricter auto loan conditions by banks. However, Kriengsak remains unfazed in his conviction stating that such regulatory changes don’t necessarily mean an impending doom for the automotive industry.

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