FP StaffDec 08, 2022 20:30:49 IST
Tesla has finally made its debut in the Thai market. The American EV maker launched two of its most iconic electric cars, the Model 3 and the Model Y in Thailand, at an event in Bangkok. Tesla will be taking on some of the most prominent Japanese and Chinese manufacturers in the country.
The Thai government has been making a major push towards EVs in the country and is encouraging EV manufacturers to sell their products in the country as well as to set up production facilities. Thailand is Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy and Asia’s fourth-largest auto assembly and export hub for companies like Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co Ltd. It produces about 1.5 million to 2 million vehicles annually, of which about half are exported.
While the Thai market has been a traditional stronghold of Japanese automakers, mainly Honda, when it comes to EVs, it will be the Chinese manufacturers that will pose a challenge for Tesla. While most Chinese manufacturers are offering vehicles that start at around 800,000 baht, Tesla’s cheapest option starts at 1.7 million baht and goes all the way up to 2.5 million baht. Anyone looking to buy a Tesla in Thailand will essentially be paying over twice the money of what it would cost a person to go for any other option.
The U.S. automaker plans to start selling its EVs in Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy via online channels, with deliveries set to start early next year.
Fuel-based vehicles, especially made by Japanese brands, still dominate the roads in Thailand, although the uptake of EVs has gradually gained momentum, with about 7,000 new battery EVs registered in the first ten months of 2022, according to the Thailand Automotive Institute. This figure has seen a growth of over 5,000 vehicles from the previous year.
Customers who showed up to Tesla’s launch in a luxury mall in central Bangkok said they were interested in the new cars being offered.
“I’m excited. The price differences aren’t significant (from other EV brands),” said office worker Thitipun Paisirikul, 36, adding he expected the resale value of the car would be high.
The Thai government wants at least 30% of vehicles produced in the country to be electric by 2030.