THE FIRST COMPANY to introduce electric vehicles (EVs) to Thailand is not Japanese or Western, but Chinese.
BYD, a Chinese car and battery manufacturer 9.9-per-cent-owned by American billionaire Warren Buffett, yesterday held a grand ceremony to announce the launch of its K9 electric bus and e6 electric sedan to the Thai market.
The event that included a test drive of its vehicles was held at the Bangkok headquarters of BYD’s Thai partner, Loxley, and was attended by hundreds of guests including senior officials from the Ministry of Industry, PTT, and |other public and private organisations, as well as the Chinese Embassy.
Industry Minister Chakramon Phasukhavanich did not show up, although he was on the list of invited guests, a copy of which Loxley sent to the media.
According to a press release issued yesterday by Loxley, the company aims sell 200 units of each model in the first year. However, Kosol Surakamol, adviser to Loxley, told the press that those figures were estimated from statistics of sales that BYD could make in other markets.
“It’s a benchmark, where we wish to go,” he said.
Kosol said that because of their high prices, BYD electric buses and cars initially would be targeted at fleet customers in the government and private sectors such as the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority, the Transport Co, Airports of Thailand, the Royal Thai Police, and taxi companies.
“According to news reports, the Transport Ministry has an initiative for the Transport Department to study fuel options for public bus fleets, whether they should be run on diesel, electricity or CNG [compressed natural gas].
“We’re still in the ‘wait and see’ stage,” he said.
Call for govt support
Kosol said the government should support the use of EVs through providing a clear-cut tax structure for CKD (completely knocked-down) kits imported for assembly in this country.
The retail price for the e6 sedan will be almost Bt3 million, while the K9 bus will start from about Bt12 million, he said.
Liu Xue-liang, BYD Auto Industry’s general manager for the Asia-Pacific region, told the press conference that the company was seeking ways to bring down its prices for the models sold here.
According to foreign news reports released this month, BYD created a novel leasing programme that helped it to win a public tender in Rio de Janeiro.
As the batteries for electric vehicles make them more expensive than cars that use fossil fuels, BYD offered a leasing option by which taxi companies and drivers can get cars without batteries at the same price they would pay for a regular car, then leased the batteries. Electric buses, also without the batteries, were offered at the same price as diesel vehicles, and the money that would have been spent on fuel pays for the battery leasing.
To service its EV fleets, Loxley said that during the initial phase, it planned to set up five service centres in Bangkok and vicinity, and would set up charging stations in the area of clients or service providers.
“It’s premature to talk about assembly at present,” Kosol said. “Investment must be carefully [considered]. We may start by outsourcing to an existing plant that has spare capacity.”
company’s release, the K9 electric bus has a range of more than 250 kilometres per single charge that takes about five hours, while the e6 five-passenger car can go more than 300km on a single charge that takes about two hours.
Running on BYD’s proprietary iron-phosphate battery technology, the e6 sedan can achieve a maximum speed of 140km/h.
Based in Shenzhen, in China’s Guangdong province, BYD has exported its EVs to 35 countries worldwide.