China's BYD signs land deal to build first electric vehicle plant in Thailand

The plant is expected to start operation in 2024 and have an annual capacity of 150,000 vehicles. PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK - Chinese electric carmaker BYD signed a land purchase deal on Thursday with WHA, Thailand's largest industrial estate developer, to build its first electric vehicle (EV) production plant in South-east Asia.

The plant is expected to start operation in 2024 and have an annual capacity of 150,000 vehicles, mostly for export to South-east Asia and Europe, the companies said in a joint statement.

The deal follows BYD's partnership with local distributor Rever Automotive, which announced last month it will start selling BYD cars in several dealerships across Thailand by the end of 2022.

BYD has announced its entry into several overseas markets in recent months, including Denmark, Germany, Israel, Japan and Cambodia.

The site covers 96ha at WHA's Rayong 36 Industrial Estate. The deal is WHA's "most significant" in 20 years, it said in the statement.

BYD plans to invest about 30 billion baht (S$1.2 billion) in production of electric vehicles, according to Thailand's Eastern Economic Corridor Office. Thailand's Board of Investment last month approved BYD's 18 billion baht plan to manufacture battery-powered vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in the country.

The Chinese EV maker, backed by Mr Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, is among the latest companies to take advantage of the Thai government's tax incentives, a key part of a plan to make Thailand - a longstanding auto manufacturing powerhouse - become the EV production hub of South-east Asia.

The Thai government earlier this year allocated about 43 billion baht through 2025 to promote the use of EVs as part of the effort.

Thailand aims to ramp up local EV output to reach at least 30 per cent of total car production by 2030. BLOOMBERG

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