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Asia Minute: Thailand is boosting incentives for electric vehicles

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BMW i3 charging port

You may have noticed more electric vehicles on the road in Hawaiʻi. Sales figures here continue to climb and the Legislature is considering some measures to increase their use.

In Thailand, the government is also trying to jump-start the market. Thailand’s government wants nearly a third of the new vehicles produced in the country to be electric.

The intended timeline for that goal is 2030, but the government is taking steps this week to encourage a quicker shift to electric.

Short-term tax breaks and subsidies for consumers are at the heart of the package that was just approved by Thailand’s cabinet.

Right now, those price cuts would apply to electric vehicles wherever they’re made. But the multi-year plan includes measures that would eventually target a boost in sales for domestically produced electric vehicles.

Details on the precise financing have not yet been released, but earlier local media reports estimated consumer savings of about $2,200 to $4,600 a vehicle.

The production incentives may turn out to be a bit more complicated.

Thailand is already a regional production center for multinational car companies — from various Chinese companies to Toyota, Ford and BMW among others.

On the same day the government announced a new round of incentives, the Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor Company announced plans to begin electric vehicle production in Thailand in 2024 — a year after it plans to open a Thai factory producing batteries for electric vehicles.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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