CARMAKERS have received fresh support from the government for production of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), as Toyota Motor Thailand Co Ltd signals its readiness to invest in an HEV plant once the company is granted investment privileges from the Board of Investment (BOI).
Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana hailed Toyota as an example for other carmakers after it applied for the BOI’s promotional investment privileges for HEV production.
Citing the growing trend for use of alternative energy sources, Uttama said other carmakers have been in negotiations with the government and are expected to apply for the BOI privileges for their HEV production plans soon.
Ninnart Chaithirapinyo, chairman of Toyota Motor Thailand, said that after the BOI gives the green light for the company's HEV plans, the proposed plant would have an annual production capacity of 70,000 HEVs, 70,000 batteries for hybrid vehicles and 9.1 million vehicle parts including doors, bumpers, and front and rear |axles.
The carmaker's project is worth Bt19.02 billion, drawing on Bt13.31 billion worth of local content. This plant will be at Gateway City Industrial Estate in Chachoengsao, one the three provinces covered by the government's proposed Eastern Economic Corridor.
After the approval of its BOI application, the company aims to discuss with officials the possible granting of a special card from the investment authority to be filed with the Excise Department that will enable a tax reduction on hybrid vehicle production.
If the excise is slashed by 50 per cent, the price of a Camry Hybrid would be reduced in line with the lower tax burden to a level that will encourage people to switch to energy-saving cars, Ninnart said.
In the next 10 years, hybrid cars will account for 80 per cent of total car market, he said, adding that it may more than 10 years for electric vehicles to make inroads.
This was due to the need for |efficient battery development and the establishment of battery-charging stations nationwide, Ninnart said.
Uttama said that he would have discussions with carmakers and educational institutions over the next two weeks on training for small and medium-sized enterprises and other smaller operators to cope with a shift to targeted industry development.
In September, Japanese officials and executives will visit as part of plans to celebrate 130 years of Thailand-Japan investment and the trading relationship. More than 500 Japanese investors will take part in a special event and visit the EEC, which is at the heart of the government’s drive to transform Thai industry.
Uttama said the government needed to strive hard to realise the ambitions of the Thailand 4.0 technology push. Under the country’s upgrade to a more advanced industrial base, the vehicle sector will be among those needing to make adjustments to a new era of technological development and innovation, he said.