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Chinese EV MNC BYD Begins New EV Factory in Thailand

BYD, the major player in Southeast Asia’s fast-growing EV sector, has launched its first manufacturing in Thailand. “Thailand has a clear EV vision and is entering a new era of auto manufacturing,” BYD CEO and President Wang Chuanfu stated during the inaugural ceremony. “We will bring technology from China to Thailand.”

The BYD plant is part of a $1.44 billion investment by Chinese EV makers in Thailand, supported by government subsidies and tax benefits. BYD, the world’s largest EV manufacturer, saw its Hong Kong-listed shares rise 1.6% to HK$235, following a week of record highs.

Thailand is a regional auto assembly and export hub dominated by Japanese automobile companies, including Toyota, Honda, and Isuzu Motors. According to a government goal, by 2030, the country plans to convert 30% of its annual 2.5 million vehicle production into EVs. “BYD is using Thailand as a production hub for export to ASEAN and many other countries,” said Narit Therdsteerasukdi, secretary-general of Thailand’s Board of Investment, in reference to the 10-nation Southeast Asian bloc. BYD is expanding beyond China by establishing its first European production base in Hungary.

The BYD factory will make EVs and plug-in hybrids for the European market, where the European Commission imposes tariffs of up to 38% on Chinese-made EVs. Operations are expected to begin in three years. BYD’s China-made EVs will face tariffs of approximately 17%.
The $490 million factory in Thailand would produce 150,000 vehicles annually, including plug-in hybrids, as announced two years ago. The right-hand-drive EVs built at the plant may help BYD to avoid EU tariffs that apply to Chinese-made automobiles.

“We will also assemble batteries and other important parts here,” stated Liu Xueliang, BYD’s Asia Pacific general manager.

Thailand is BYD’s largest international market, accounting for 46% of the country’s EV segment in the first quarter and ranking third in passenger automobiles, according to research firm Counterpoint. Other EV contenders in the local market include Great Wall Motor, which has a production facility in Thailand, and Tesla, a US automaker.