Mercedes-Benz plans to start local assembly and sales of battery EVs, following application to assemble battery EVs for Thailand Board of Investments (BOI) incentives covering all global electric vehicles (EV) line-ups—plug-in hybrid EVs, battery EVs and lithium-ion batteries.
Previously in early 2016, Mercedes-Benz decided to localise its assembly line of plug-in hybrid EVs and in 2017, joined the government’s EV scheme. In early 2018, the company also applied for manufacturing expansion of plug-in EVs (worth 607 million baht).”We have begun marketing our plug-in hybrid EVs in the market and have invested further to produce lithium-ion batteries, so it would not make any sense if we did not bring our battery EV technology to the country,” said Frank Steinacher, vice-president for sales and marketing of Mercedes-Benz.
In March 2018, Stuttgart-based parent firm Daimler AG has localised assembly of batteries for plug-in hybrid EVs at its Samut Prakan plant with an investment of 3.9 billion baht. However, Mercedes-Benz will become the first car brand to produce the batteries locally. Furthermore, Mr Steinacher announced that Mercedes-Benz will be bringing the EQC that was launched last September under the EQ Electric Intelligence initiative into the local market this year as the first battery EV sold in Thailand.
Mercedes-Benz is also emphasising the EQ families of EQ Power (plug-in hybrid EV), EQ Power+ (AMG cars) and EQ Boost (48-volt on-board electric system) in the market., with all three platforms being assembled at the Samut Prakan plant.
According to Roland Folger, president and chief executive of Mercedes-Benz Thailand, the overall luxury car market grew from 27,000 units sold in 2017 to 32,000 in 2018, as each distributor was competitive with new cars and technologies. Mercedes-Benz set a record for sales with 15,785 vehicles, a 9% rise from 2018 and has launched 16 models in Thailand in the last year. With new luxury players entering the market, Mr Folger expects that at least 20 new models are expected to be launched in Thailand and total dealers to come up to 36 in 2019.