The utility company that is helping to power one of Southeast Asia’s largest cities is building electric cars, batteries and charging stations for the nascent market. Following this, they also plan to supply the juice to keep it all running.
Following the example set by the Netherlands and Norway, Thailand billionaire Somphote Ahunai has set his sights on evolving his company, Energy Absolute Pcl, into an electric vehicle (EV) juggernaut; despite there only being approximately less than 1,500 EV vehicles in the country.
While there has been some progress, Southeast Asia overall has been slow to adopt EVs. Some of the factors involved include higher than average sticker prices, a predilection for two-wheeled vehicles, and insufficient infrastructure to make large scale EV adoption practical.
Lately, the Thai government has taken an interest in EVs as one possible method to decrease Bangkok’s air pollution as well as strengthen the Thai automotive industry; which currently contributes to roughly 12 per cent of Thailand’s annual GDP.
Energy Absolute is using subsidies and tax breaks to put 5,000 EVs on the road by next year, backed by 700-plus charging stations. It’s also planning a $3 billion factory to make lithium-ion batteries. Should the adoption prove successful, the Thai automotive industry is expected to experience huge growth with more opportunities for SMEs penetrate the market.
“The trend is clear: it’s time for Thailand to stop being complacent and pursue higher technology to drive economic growth”, said Somphote. “EV technology opens up new opportunities for success by new players”.
It will not be a completely smooth ride ahead for the utility company however. Despite the slow adoption rate of EVs in Southeast Asia, foreign EV suppliers and manufacturers have already begun eyeing the region as an untapped market with huge potential. It is expected that the sustainable transportation market will be getting very crowded in the near future.