Asia’s EV battle front opens up as China’s Great Wall Motor plans to launch nine electric car models in Thailand in the next three years

Peggy Sito
·2-min read

Chinese carmaker Great Wall Motor (GWM) is making a concerted push into Thailand, where demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is expected to increase about threefold this year, thanks to support from the government.

The Baoding, Hebei province-based manufacturer of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pickup trucks plans to launch nine models in three years in Thailand. It revealed its strategy with the launch of the GWM brand in the country on Tuesday, February 9.

“Nearly all of [the nine models] will be electric vehicles, creating a line-up that will breathe new life into Thailand’s automobile scene with technology and performance,” Narong Sritalayon, the managing director of GWM Thailand, said last week.

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GWM, which sells cars in more than 60 markets worldwide, views Thailand as a potential market and as a base for its expansion into the Asean region. The country, already Southeast Asia’s car production hub, is seeking to position itself as a centre for battery-powered vehicles as countries compete to lure investment by global carmakers. By 2030, Thailand aims to have EVs account for 30 per cent of its car production, as makes efforts to minimise air pollution.

“There were 2,079 EVs [vehicles with seven seats or less] registered in Thailand as of December end, up from 802 in 2019,” Surapong Paisitpatanapong, the vice-chairman and spokesman of FTI’s automotive club, said in an interview on Monday. Surapong added that he expected Thailand to see about 6,000 new EVs on roads this year.

He said the growth of EVs in Thailand had been boosted by the free-trade agreement between Asean countries and China. Because of the agreement, all EVs imported from China will be tax-free, compared with those imported from Japan, which can be taxed at about 20 per cent.

To mark its entry into Thailand, the manufacturer announced the launch of two of its popular models, the HAVAL H6 SUV and the ORA Good Cat car.

GWM kicked off its expansion in Thailand last year with the establishment of its Rayong plant, a smart factory that it aims to position as its production base for right-hand drive EVs for the Asean region. The facility belonged to General Motors, and was sold to GWM last year after the US carmaker decided to withdraw from Thailand.

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