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BYD’s First Southeast Asian EV Factory Cements Its Position In Thailand

BYD's first electric vehicle (EV) factory in Southeast Asia, a fast-growing regional EV market, in Rayong, Thailand. Image credit - REUTERS/Chalinee Thirasupa

BYD’s First Southeast Asian EV Factory Cements Its Position In Thailand

China’s BYD (Build Your Dreams) opened an electric vehicle (EV) plant in Thailand on 4 July 2024. The automaker’s first factory in Southeast Asia cements its position as a dominant EV player in the region, The Nation Thailand noted.

This came a day after PT Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Indonesia (HMMI) opened its Indonesian electric vehicle (EV) battery cell factory in collaboration with LG Energy on 3 July 2024.

“Thailand has a clear EV vision and is entering a new era of auto manufacturing. We will bring technology from China to Thailand,” BYD CEO and President Wang Chuanfu said at the opening ceremony.

Workers assemble an EV car inside BYD’s first electric vehicle (EV) factory in Southeast Asia, a fast-growing regional EV market where it has become the dominant player, in Rayong, Thailand. Image credit – REUTERS/Chalinee Thirasupa

The BYD plant is part of a wave of investment worth more than US$1.44 billion from Chinese EV makers who are setting up factories in Thailand, helped by government subsidies and tax incentives. Hong Kong-listed shares of the automaker rose 3.2% to HK$237.60, their biggest intraday jump since 13 June 2024. 

By 2030, Thailand aims to convert 30% of its annual production of 2.5 million vehicles into EVs, according to a government plan. Thailand is a regional auto assembly and export hub, and has long been dominated by Japanese car makers such as Toyota Motor, Honda Motor Co and Isuzu Motors.

“BYD is using Thailand as a production hub for export to Asean and many other countries,” said Board of Investment (BOI) secretary-general Narit Therdsteerasukdi, referring to the 10-nation Southeast Asian bloc.

The facility, announced two years ago, is worth US$490 million and will have a production capacity of 150,000 vehicles per year, including plug-in hybrids. The sprawling factory in eastern Thailand’s Rayong district will employ around 10,000 workers, some of whom were seen operating machinery on Thursday as under-construction bodies of BYD’s Dolphin model moved through an assembly line.

“We will also assemble batteries and other important parts here,” said Liu Xueliang, BYD’s Asia Pacific General Manager.

Thailand is the largest overseas market for BYD, which commanded a 46% share of country’s EV segment in the first quarter and is the third-largest player in passenger cars, according to research firm Counterpoint. Such proves Chinese players’ active doubling down on conquering the Thai market for its more affordable EVs.

Other EV rivals in the local market include Great Wall Motor, which also has a production facility in Thailand, and Tesla. BYD dealers in Thailand are currently under scrutiny following a consumer complaint over aggressive discounting that has left some buyers upset with how much they paid for their cars. However, legal experts have reportedly said BYD’s campaigns have not violated any laws.

The Nation quoted Verapat Pariyawong, Owner of VLA legal advisory firm, said buyers of BYD electric cars and SUVs before the discounts were offered deserve sympathy, but the campaigns did not violate the law.

“By legal principle, a price cut would be unlawful only if it was used to gain an upper hand and to destroy competition. It’s not unlawful to hurt the feelings of buyers although they deserve sympathy.” He explained that under the key principle of free trade, the government should not interfere in the market mechanism and any interference would be allowed only to protect public interest.



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