Silicon Valley exec sees Thailand as electric vehicle hub

Thailand and its neighbors could become a global hub for manufacturing “vehicles of the future,” according to the founder of Silicon Valley-based Open Motors, which is in talks with Thai companies about building some of the vehicles it has designed.

“We are meeting with manufacturing and energy companies in Thailand and countries in the region to build both the cars and the batteries. So many Japanese companies are moving their manufacturing to Thailand, so it makes sense for us,” Tin Hang Liu, founder of Open Motors, told the Bangkok Post.

Open Motors is in the process of designing a car that it claims will be able to run for approximately 20 years with little to no maintenance. Liu believes it can capture a significant market segment by supplying its vehicles to ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Grab.

Thailand has the most extensive vehicle-manufacturing sector in Southeast Asia. Virtually every major American, Japanese, and European carmaker are building their vehicles in Thailand and selling them domestically or exporting them.

To maintain Thailand’s competitiveness in the vehicle sector, and the foster innovation and promote sustainability, the Kingdom’s policymakers have been incentivizing production of electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles, batteries, and other advanced automobile technologies.

Local, as well as global companies and entrepreneurs, are entering and competing in this advanced technology sector. Bloomberg business news recently dubbed Thai billionaire Somphote Ahunai the “Tesla of Thailand.”

Head of the solar power company Energy Absolute, Somphote has taken his firm into manufacturing electric vehicles, batteries and charging stations in a calculated bet that the technology is poised to take off in Thailand.

Energy Absolute, the Kingdom’s second-largest electricity generating company, premiered is Mine Mobility electric passenger car at the Bangkok Motor Show. The new vehicle received 4,500 orders.

Bloomberg said that “Energy Absolute rivals Tesla in trying to integrate all stages of the E.V. life cycle: electricity generation, battery production, car manufacturing, and charging-point installation.”

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