Participants attend the groundbreaking ceremony of BYD Passenger Vehicle Manufacturing Base in Rayong, Thailand on March 10, 2023. (Xinhua/Wang Teng)
"This move will not only create more job opportunities and drive economic development in Thailand but also promote the deep integration of the new energy vehicle industries in China and Thailand," said Wang Liping, minister-counsellor for economic and commercial affairs of the Chinese Embassy in Thailand.
RAYONG, Thailand, March 11 (Xinhua) -- China's leading electric vehicle manufacturer BYD held a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday for its first car plant in Thailand, marking the latest move by Chinese automakers to expand their footprint in Southeast Asia.
The new factory, located in the Eastern Economic Corridor Special Zone in coastal Rayong province, is expected to serve as a hub for the production and distribution of electric vehicles (EVs) in Thailand, neighboring ASEAN countries and other regions.
As a major player in the global EV market, BYD's cumulative sales of new energy vehicles exceeded 1.86 million units in 2022, representing a year-on-year increase of 208.6 percent, according to the company.
Joining SAIC Motor's MG and Great Wall Motor, BYD becomes another Chinese car brand to establish manufacturing operations in Thailand, a market that has long been dominated by Japanese brands.
Last year, BYD brought its most popular model, the ATTO3, to Thailand. Liu Xueliang, general manager of BYD Asia-Pacific Auto Sales Division, described the sales scene as "booming" with people lining up overnight to purchase the car. The sales target of 10,000 units was achieved in just 42 days.
A visitor experiences a BYD Dolphin electric car during the Thailand International Motor Expo in Bangkok, Thailand on Dec. 1, 2022. (Xinhua/Wang Teng)
On the day of the groundbreaking ceremony, BYD also held a delivery ceremony for the 9,999th and 10,000th ATTO 3 cars.
The plant is scheduled to start production in 2024 with an annual capacity of 150,000 new energy vehicles.
BYD's investment in Thailand is also in line with the Thai government's goal of having 30 percent of vehicles manufactured in the country be EVs by 2030.
"BYD's decision to make Thailand its production base in the Asia-Pacific region aligns with Thailand's bio-, circular and green (BCG) economic model and the direction of China's green and sustainable development," said Wang Liping, minister-counsellor for economic and commercial affairs of the Chinese Embassy in Thailand.
"This move will not only create more job opportunities and drive economic development in Thailand but also promote the deep integration of the new energy vehicle industries in China and Thailand," he added.
Thai officials, including Thailand Board of Investment Secretary General Narit Therdsteerasukdi and Rayong Province Deputy Governor Suphot Torartharn, warmly welcomed BYD's entry into Thailand. They believe that BYD's presence in the Thai market will invigorate the country's EV industry.
According to data from the Thailand Automotive Institute and the Department of Land Transport, sales of pure electric vehicles in Thailand reached 13,454 units last year, a sharp increase over the past few years, representing a year-on-year increase of 588.5 percent.
Many EV brands have joined the government's subsidy measures, including Chinese, Western and Japanese companies, said Kevalin Wangpichayasuk, assistant managing director of Kasikorn Research Center, adding that this is not only good news for car buyers who will have more choices, but also for the Thai automotive industry during the transition period to catch up with future trends.■