Honda awaits go-ahead for EV investment perks

Auto & Audio July 24, 2018 01:00


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JAPANESE carmaker Honda will learn tomorrow whether it will secure investment privileges in support of plans worth as much as Bt5 billion for a production plant relating to electric vehicles (EVs).

The vehicle giant’s application will be considered at a meeting of the board of the Board of Investment, which has already granted privileges to other carmakers.

Duangjai Asawachintachit, BOI secretary-general, said that Honda’s application, along with those from the other big manufacturers, came as a good sign for Thailand’s EV production in the long term. The BOT conditions for the privileges require EV makers to produce at least one of 13 major EV components for technology transfer in the country. Tomorrow’s BOI board meeting will be chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Electric batteries, if made locally, will see excise tax on them cut by 50 per cent from 8 per cent to 4 per cent.

Five carmakers, including Honda’s Japanese rival Toyota and Germany’s Mercedes-Benz and BMW, have been approved for EV production in Thailand and have opted to invest in electric batteries.

The BOI had earlier extended its investment promotional privileges to three EV investment projects: from Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The first project involves Toyota’s plug-in hybrid EV production on expectation for the launch next year of a Toyota model that has been undergoing technological changes. The project is worth about Bt20 billion.

Mercedes-Benz and BMW are participating in the EV scheme with projects that are each worth no more than Bt2 billion. “Usually, EV makers will team up as partners and EV production will lead to a number of suppliers. If more parts are (locally) made, we will provide (EV makers) with more investment promotional privileges,” Duangjai said.

Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana said that, initially, “we’ve agreed with Toyota for (EV) investment due to the relatively fast EV development. Its technological changes will be distinct in two to three years.”

During a trip to Japan last week, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak met Toyota Motor Corporation of Japan’s (TMC) executive vice president Shigeki Terashi and asked the carmaker to invest in a battery recycling plant in the Eastern Economic Corridor. This would accommodate the expansion of the automobile industry with the proposed highest BOI promotional privileges.

A source said TMC has asked about Thailand’s EV infrastructure extending from the number of charging stations and the adequacy of power supply if a number of EVs are charged simultaneously. Reportedly, TMC will focus on a shift in its production from hybrid vehicles to plug-in hybrid vehicles, which allow drivers to switch between the two modes of power.