September 11, 2023
BANGKOK – One of China’s top three electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers, Guangzhou Automobile Corp (GAC), said it plans to develop Thailand into a global production hub for its right-hand drive electric car.
The announcement was made at a press conference on Saturday evening that was timed with the debut of the company’s latest SUV, the Aion Y Plus EV, in Thailand.
Gu Hui Nan, managing director of GAC Aion New Energy Automobile, said Thailand was chosen as the company’s first international production base due to the readiness of its automotive infrastructure. With a capacity of around 2 million cars, the country is one of the best in the Asia region.
Thailand’s EV market is showing signs of growth, with dealers, distributors, services, and a workforce ready to begin operations, he added.
GAC intends to build an automobile assembly plant in Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), but did not say how much it would invest in the plant. The factory will be completed in the first half of 2024 and will be ready to produce cars in June 2025, according to the plan.
“This factory will be the right-hand drive EV car production hub, exporting to right-hand drive countries around the world,” Gu Hui Nan said.
GAC has prepared an operational plan for Thailand but did not elaborate, he said. He did say, however, that the company has no plans to produce batteries in Thailand in the near future.
GAC will consider collaborating with clean energy companies in Thailand to install its charging stations nationwide, he said.
Prices for the Aion Y Plus range from 1,069,900 to 1,299,990 baht.
“This launch event not only introduces exciting new products to the Thai market, but also highlights GAC’s remarkable achievements as a prominent player in the Chinese automobile industry,” Gu Hui Nan said, adding that GAC hopes to collaborate with Thailand to build a world-class new energy automotive industry ecosystem.
“We anticipate that by 2025, we will have gradually achieved local production and localised research and development in Thailand, accelerating Thailand’s journey to becoming the electric vehicle hub of Southeast Asia,” he said.
Ocean Ma, managing director of GAC’s Thai unit Aion Automobile Manufacturing (Thailand), added that AION plans to rapidly expand its network of sales outlets throughout Thailand’s major cities, including well-known tourist destinations.
Aion has already opened 30 sales outlets, 25 of which are in the greater Bangkok area. By the end of the year, the company hopes to have completed the construction of 50 sales outlets and service centres.
Ma expects to sell 3,000 Aion Y Plus cars in Thailand by the end of the year, saying it registered over 26,000 in China in August alone, solidifying its position as China’s best-selling electric SUV.
GAC Group is a Chinese automotive behemoth with the most comprehensive ecosystem in the country. With annual production and sales exceeding 2.4 million vehicles and operating revenue exceeding 500 billion yuan, it ranks 165th in the Fortune Global 500.
The company’s announcement that it will build a plant in Thailand came after government agencies rolled out a red carpet of incentives to entice foreign investment in the EV market. Auto production is one of Thailand’s five flagship industries.