By Devjyot Ghoshal
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand is in talks with China’s CATL and other battery makers to build production facilities in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy that has ambitions to become a regional EV production hub, a government official said.
These discussions come as Thailand, a regional autos hub, pushes to become a key player in the global electric vehicle (EV) supply chain outside of China by offering tax cuts and subsidies to drive EV adoption and production.
“We are talking to many companies, not only CATL but many companies in the battery industry,” said Narit Therdsteerasukdi, Secretary General of Thailand Board of Investment (BOI).
“This is one of our goals. That we would like to attract battery cell producers to set up their factory in Thailand.”
Narit did not give details and it was not clear how advanced the discussions were.
CATL, or Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
CATL, the world’s dominant battery supplier with a 37% market share, currently has no production facilities in Southeast Asia, its website shows.
The Ningde, Fujian-based company last year announced a strategic collaboration with a subsidiary of Thai energy major PTT Pcl to “explore potential cooperation and development opportunities in battery-related business” in the region.
ARUN PLUS, the PTT subsidiary, is part of a joint venture with Taiwan’s Foxconn that is building a facility with a goal of manufacturing EVs in Thailand as early as 2024.
THAILAND’S EV AMBITIONS
Thailand is the tenth-largest auto manufacturing economy with production dominated by Japanese automakers including Toyota and Isuzu.
By 2030, Thailand aims to convert around 30% of its annual production of 2.5 million vehicles into EVs, according to a government plan.
In the past few years, Thailand has drawn investments from EV companies, mainly Chinese, including Great Wall Motors and BYD Co.
But Thailand wants to attract EV suppliers as well as assembly plants, including local production of batteries and other key components, like chargers, Narit said.
Narit said the government’s goal was to direct support and subsidies to land larger battery production facilities.
Thailand is prioritising support for investments that will fund plants with a capacity of more than 8 gigawatt hours (GWh), he added.
A plant of that size would produce enough cells to power more than 106,000 EVs with a 75 kilowatt-hour battery.
CATL currently has 13 battery production hubs, 11 in China, one in Hungary and one in Germany. Its 14-GWh plant near Erfurt, Germany began ramping up production this year.
CATL, which has been expanding rapidly outside China, has contracts with Ford Motor, Honda Motor Co and BMW, among others. Its batteries also power Volkswagen’s I.D. series and Tesla cars built in China.
(Reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Kevin Krolicki and Himani Sarkar)