The launch of the MG’s ZS EV car in Thailand this month will mark a new era for the Chinese-Thai joint venture SAIC Motor-CP as it seeks to capitalise on two major trends – electric and smart vehicles.
New energy vehicles (NEV) are the fastest growing segment in the global auto industry. According to the China Passenger Car Association, last year more than one million passenger NEVs were sold, up 88.5 per cent from 2017.
The first MG ZS broke new ground as an internet-connected vehicle targeted at the young Asian market. The upcoming MG ZS EV goes further still, as an electric SUV with an i-SMART intelligent connectivity system.
SAIC is combining intelligent vehicle and NEV technologies as part of its strategy to become a leader in this field where auto, telecommunications and technology converge. Next year the company plans to start mass production of the world’s first 5G-equipped intelligent connected vehicle, the Roewe Vision-i.
In Thailand SAIC Motor-CP is investing in production of two types of electric vehicles: plug-in hybrids and battery Evs, at its facility in Chon Buri. It is also planning to move into battery production.
In line with global trends, growth in sales of electric vehicles in Thailand is outstripping the industry. In 2019, Thailand’s domestic automotive market is expected to contract by 2-5 per cent, which contrasts with the expected growth in EV sales of about 80 per cent. Strong growth in EV vehicles is supported by government policy which aims to establish a complete EV ecosystem that includes EV manufacturers and the companies that build the infrastructure to supply power to EV vehicles. This will help to maintain Thailand’s leading position as a global automobile manufacturer. A number of companies – including Mazda, Ford, Nissan – have already applied for and received Board of Investment support.
Many other manufacturers based in Thailand either plan to invest in the EV industry or are in the process of applying for BOI approval. Although this segment currently only occupies a small slice of Thailand’s automotive market, we can expect a ramp-up in production and an increase in adoption over the next few years.
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