Four top automakers, namely Toyota, Nissan, Honda and the AutoAlliance, which assembles Ford and Mazda vehicles, have announced that they will start manufacturing electric vehicles (EV) in Thailand.

A Thai delegation, led by energy minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow, travelled to Japan last month to woo investors from targeted industries namely automotive, electronics and medical.

Supattanapong said most of the investors have confidence in Thailand and consider it a “good location” to build a regional base. He added that many companies showed great interest in investing in Thailand, especially in the automotive and electronic sectors.

The minister said these companies also aim to achieve carbon neutrality, which is in line with the Thai government’s policy.

He said during the discussions, the delegation also revealed supporting measures being offered by the government, especially in the EV and EV-related industries.

“The companies welcome these measures and have shown interest in investing in the EV industry,” he added.

Supattanapong said he also tried to build connections in the manufacturing and recycling of EV batteries.

A Government House source said the delegation met with four automakers to discuss EV supporting measures from 2022 to 2025, including discounts on excise and customs tax.

At the meetings, the automakers also announced their future business plans. For instance, Toyota plans to produce 30 EV models over the next 10 years and aims to sell 3.5 million EVs by 2030.

Thailand’s Board of Investment has been supporting automakers in the manufacturing of battery electric vehicles (BEV), hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV).

The benefits offered to the four automakers include the January 7, 2020 approval of Toyota’s project to produce BEV and PHEV cars. The vehicles are expected to go on the market by 2023.

Nissan’s project to manufacture HEV cars and EV batteries was approved on July 28, 2018. The automaker invested 10.96 billion baht ($318 million) in the project.

Honda’s 5.82-billion-baht expansion into the manufacturing of HEV cars and EV batteries was approved on July 28, 2018.

AutoAlliance’s project to manufacture PHEV and BEV vehicles was approved on November 4, 2020. The automaker has invested 3.25 billion baht and expects to manufacture 5,000 PHEV and 1,000 BEV each year for the local market.

Meanwhile, Supattanapong also said that Japanese electronic companies see Thailand as a strong midstream and downstream manufacturing base. They also believe Thailand has the potential to develop into an upstream semiconductor manufacturer, provided it builds a strong workforce in the field, he added.

Japanese companies in the medical industry have also voiced confidence in the potential of the Thai medical sector. He said these companies are planning to enter the medical industry and clinical research by cooperating with Thai universities and hospitals.

Supattanapong said the delegation also discussed guidelines on applying medical technology to keep the elderly healthy and extending their life spans so they can continue working beyond retirement age. He said this was necessary because Thailand is fast becoming an ageing society.