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China’s BYD Unveils EV Plant in Thailand, First in Southeast Asia

On Thursday, China’s BYD (Build Your Dreams) unveiled its first electric vehicle (EV) factory in Thailand, marking the company’s entry into Southeast Asia’s rapidly growing EV market where it has become the dominant player.

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

This new BYD facility is part of a wave of investments exceeding US$1.44 billion by Chinese EV manufacturers establishing operations in Thailand, assisted by government grants and tax incentives.

Hong Kong-listed shares of the automaker rose 3.2% to HK$237.60, marking their biggest intraday jump since June 13 of this year.

By the year 2030, Thailand plans to transform 30% of its annual vehicle production of 2.5 million units into electric vehicles, as outlined in an official strategy.

Known as a key automotive assembly and export hub in the region, Thailand has traditionally been dominated by Japanese automakers such as Toyota Motor, Honda Motor Co, and Isuzu Motors.

Narit Therdsteerasukdi, secretary-general of the Board of Investment (BOI), mentioned, “BYD is leveraging Thailand as a strategic base for exporting to the ASEAN bloc and several other nations.”

Announced two years ago, the plant represents a $490 million investment and is designed to produce up to 150,000 vehicles annually, including plug-in hybrids.

Situated in the Rayong district of eastern Thailand, the expansive plant will employ approximately 10,000 individuals, some of whom were observed operating machinery as the Dolphin model’s bodies moved down the assembly line under construction.

Liu Xueliang, General Manager of BYD for the Asia Pacific, stated, “We are also setting up production for batteries and other crucial components here.”

Thailand stands as BYD’s most substantial international market, securing a 46% share of the nation’s EV market in the first quarter and ranking as the third-largest player in passenger vehicles, according to Counterpoint research.

Other companies, such as Great Wall Motor which also operates a manufacturing plant there, and Tesla, are competitors in Thailand’s EV market.

However, BYD’s dealerships in Thailand are currently facing scrutiny following a consumer complaint about aggressive discounting practices that have left some customers dissatisfied with their purchase prices.