China's Changan Automobile to build an EV factory in Thailand

April 21, 2023 5:24 am

Chinese automaker Changan Automobile will invest $285 million in a plant in Thailand to produce 100,000 electric vehicles (EVs) a year, Thailand's Board of Investment said Thursday.

"Changan's decision to invest in Thailand is a significant milestone in promoting the country as the world's major EV production base," said the board's secretary-general, Narit Therdsteerasukdi.

As Southeast Asia moves toward electrification, Chinese electric vehicle manufacturers have become a driving force and are poised to change the landscape of the auto industry.

With Japanese automakers, who have long dominated Southeast Asia and have more than 80 percent market share in some countries, accustomed to concentrating on hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, the door is open for Chinese pure-electric automakers to capture a large share of the market.

Currently, Southeast Asia is one of the main export destinations for Chinese new energy vehicles. According to Chinese customs data, China shipped 362,200 new energy vehicles in the first half of 2022, more than double the number shipped in the same period last year. Shipments to Southeast Asia totaled 58,400 units, or 16 percent, second only to Western Europe's 122,700 units.

The automotive industry is a key contributor to Thailand's economy, representing roughly 10% of the country's GDP and providing employment opportunities in manufacturing. To support the industry's growth, the Thai government has implemented policies to incentivize the adoption of EVs.

As a result of the government's efforts, an increasing number of Chinese automakers have invested in Thailand, including BYD, which has established manufacturing plants in the country to capitalize on the well-established automotive industry and the growing demand for EVs.