BoI approves nearly $4 billion in new investment projects

Thailand’s Board of Investment (BoI) said last week it had approved $3.83 billion in new investment projects led by Toyota’s $570 million investment in plants to produce hybrid electric vehicles, a new factory by Triumph Motorcycles and three new mass transit rail lines.

The investment by Toyota represents positive support for the government’s aim of promoting the development of an electric vehicle industry in the Kingdom to advance its already successful vehicle-manufacturing sector to the next level of development. Thailand is known as “the Detroit of Asia” because nearly every major global auto manufacturer has factories in the Kingdom.

The investments overall represent positive reinforcement that businesses view the Thai economy as entering a solid recovery and they are banking on its future. With four straight months of surging exports, the economy that showed tepid growth in the last few years is clearly gaining traction, and companies are reopening their vaults to invest and capitalize on the resurgence.

BoI Secretary-General Hiranya Sujinai said Toyota Motor Corporation plans to produce 7,000 hybrid electric vehicles, or HEVs, a year. The company will also manufacture 70,000 batteries for electric cars, along with other vehicle parts such as doors, bumpers and axles. These are expected to total 9.1 million units a year.

Its new factory will be situated at the Gateway City Industrial Estate in Chachoengsao province east of Bangkok, which is part of the Eastern Economic Corridor, the showcase advanced development zone for Thailand 4.0, the national strategy to raise the country’s level of development. Toyota is expected to start producing HEVs at its new plant next year.

Toyota is the first applicant to receive privileges to make electric vehicles in Thailand under the new promotional privileges for EVs the BoI approved in March, including tax holidays of five to eight years. The privileges focus on production of HEVs, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles.

A major move by the private sector to support electric vehicles took place last week when BMW Group, Polytechnology Co., Greenlots, Central Group and AP (Thailand) Plc., signed a memorandum of understanding to build the world’s largest network of public charging stations for electric vehicles.

The network will be the Thailand branch of ChargeNow, which has built charging stations in 27 countries and is led by BMW with local partners in each country. The Thai network will have 50 charging stations nationwide in its first phase, with far greater numbers planned for subsequent phases. Polytechnology and Greenlots are leading providers of electric vehicle charging solutions, specializing in open standards, cloud-based platforms and mobile applications.