Electric vehicle boost in Southeast Asia as local production begins

June 22, 2022

Honda’s joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group in China has begun building an electric vehicle factory in Guangdong with an annual production capacity of 120,000 EV’s (Courtesy Reuters/Honda)
Honda’s joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group in China has begun building an electric vehicle factory in Guangdong with an annual production capacity of 120,000 EV’s (Courtesy Reuters/Honda)

The electric vehicle market is taking off in Southeast Asia as automakers plan to start production in at least three countries this year, reports Nikkei Asia. Many of these companies are based in China and South Korea, while Japanese automakers, which now account for more than 90% of new-car sales in Southeast Asia, are said to be falling behind.

Hyundai Motor began full-scale production at its new electric vehicle factory in Indonesia earlier this year and China’s SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile unveiled a new mini EV slated to start production in the Southeast Asian country by the end of the year.

Wuling is reportedly a driving force in China’s growing EV market, selling 420,000 Hongguang Minis, which are said to start at just 32,800 Yuan (US $4,885), there last year. The company has yet to announce the price of its new model in Indonesia, however it is expected this could ignite the EV market in that country, where the majority of models now cost over $35,000 and only around 700 new EVs were sold in Indonesia last year.

Thailand is reported to be aiming for EV’s to reach 30% of its auto production by 2030. It has begun offering tax incentives and subsidies for those looking to purchase. China’s Great Wall Motor has received orders for over 4,700 Ora vehicles since they went on sale in Thailand during November, more than double the country’s entire EV sales in 2021. Great Wall looks to reduce prices further by starting Thai production as early as 2023.

Nikkei Asia added that Toyota Motor and SAIC Motor also are taking advantage of the Thai incentives. Toyota is expected to start selling Japanese-built EVs in Thailand later this year, with plans to switch to local production as early as 2024.

The Mercedes-Benz Group plans to start assembling vehicles in Thailand this year, while Thai state energy group PTT aims to begin EV production in 2024 with Hon Hai Precision Industry, the Taiwanese manufacturer also known as Foxconn.

Volvo Cars announced in March that it had begun assembling vehicles in Malaysia. The Fieldman Group, a Malaysian producer of palm oil and other commodities, said in January that it would build a joint EV assembly plant with China’s Changan Automobile.

VinFast, the automaking arm of Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup, began selling locally made EVs in December. It plans to manufacture and sell vehicles in the US as well.

In the Philippines, a law to bolster the EV sector took effect in May. It requires logistics providers and public transportation operators to electrify at least 5% of their fleets by a date to be decided later. The government is weighing new incentives for the import and manufacturing of such vehicles.

Honda Motor’s joint venture in China with Guangzhou Automobile Group has begun building an electric vehicle factory in Guangdong province with an initial investment of 3.49 billion yuan ($522 million), reported Reuters. The Japanese automaker is aiming to start the factory’s operation in 2024, it said in a statement. The new factory has an annual production capacity of 120,000 units.

Honda said another EV plant in China, in a joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Group, is also expected to start operations in 2024.

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