Thai govt to accelerate EV push

The Metropolitan Electricity Authority's charging stations for EVs were on display at the National Engineering 2019 event at Impact Forum. Patipat Janthong. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

BANGKOK, Oct 8, 2020, The Nation. Thailand is mulling more tariff and excise tax cuts to boost use of electric vehicles (EV) and also create an EV manufacturing regional hub, The Nation reported.

Many EV-manufacturing investors have already applied for privileges with the Board of Investment (BOI), but the high battery price was still making EVs too expensive for consumers, Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit said on Wednesday (Oct 7).

The battery cost represents half of the total EV price. Currently, Thailand does not have the resources to manufacture batteries, so drawing foreign investors was difficult, Suriya admitted.

The solution to boosting use of electric vehicles was to cut tax on EVs and parts, he added.

EVs could be imported either as finished vehicles or as parts to be assembled in Thailand, he said.

“We may set a time limit on importing finished EVs, then wait for domestic demand to rise and prompt investment in [domestic] EV-parts manufacturing and charging stations,” the minister continued.Wider adoption of EVs would help reduce air pollution, especially harmful PM 2.5 particles, he added.

To make Thailand a hub of EV production, the government must convince investors of Thailand’s potential to shift gear from manufacturing combust-engine vehicles. Investors must be supported to produce different types of EVs.

Over the past three years, the BOI has approved 13 EV-production projects with a combined capacity of 125,000 electric vehicles per year and total investment of about Bt156 billion.

The BOI is now considering extra incentives for EV production of pick-ups, buses, motorcycles, three-wheel vehicles and others, he said.

Existing incentives include waiving the 8 per cent excise tax rate until 2023, then collecting just 2 per cent from 2024 to 2025. However, EV prices remain high as of September with imports starting at Bt1.19 million.

To make the affordable prices of EVs, the ministry must push Thai production of EV and parts and batteries. The government may need to provide free charging and waive or reduce road and other taxes for EV users, he said, adding the proposals would be submitted soon to the National Electric Vehicle Policy Committee for approval.

The industry will also accelerate building of EV infrastructure, including the national vehicle testing centre under construction in Chachoengsao province and set to launch in 2021. Meanwhile a battery-testing centre would be complete next month and start to operating next year.

The ministry is collaborating with Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) on drafting 57 standards for EVs, 21 of which have been announced with the remainder to be completed next year, he added.

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