Volvo urges focus on mass market for EVs Incentives needed for Thais to purchase

Asia's Tech News Daily
Volvo urges focus on mass market for EVs  Incentives needed for Thais to purchase

The latest car models including electric cars are displayed at this year’s Motor Expo. Pattarapong Chatpattarasill

Volvo Cars (Thailand) wants the Thai government to strike a balance between aiming to become an electric vehicle (EV) production hub and fostering an ecosystem where ordinary Thais can own EVs.

“There’s a big focus from the government on producing electric cars in Thailand. That’s very good,” said Chris Wailes, managing director of Thailand for Volvo Cars.

“However, there needs to be a balance between producing EVs and owning an electric car. You can produce thousands of EVs in Thailand, and not one person will use one if [the balance] is not there.”

When asked about potential assistance from the government, Mr Wailes said he was aware of some upcoming announcements regarding potential incentives for EVs.

However, he stressed this would not affect premium vehicles, including Volvo.

“I think it will be focused on the mass market rather than the premium market,” said Mr Wailes.

“We have to be self-sufficient. We have to try and provide the right car, at the right price, with the right offer to cover all of those potential blockages.”

Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith recently announced a comprehensive EV promotion plan is awaiting approval from the National Electric Vehicle Policy Committee.

The plan proposes a subsidy for EVs to keep the prices closer to the cost of cars powered by internal combustion engines.

The 21-year Volvo veteran said private companies in other countries worldwide are spearheading efforts to build proper infrastructure instead of waiting for the government.

“I think the one wish I have, and I told this to the Electric Vehicle Association of Thailand, is usability,” said Mr Wailes.

“It should be like a credit card where customers can belong to any charging company, but still use any charging post across the country. That will make a big difference. That’s how we need to make it easy for people to use them. I think it’ll be private companies, but we will push this.”

Volvo has DC fast charges at its repair centres and retailers. This type of charger fully recharges EVs in roughly 40 minutes. The car company also unveiled two Volvo-certified damage repair centres in Bangkok.

Despite describing this year as challenging, Mr Wailes said he was still pleased with the strong sales projection for Volvo’s EVs. The company estimated 10% sales growth for 2021 despite a semiconductor shortage that led to delivery delays.

The company’s best-seller for 2021 is the Volvo XC60 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid, accounting for 23% of total sales. The XC40 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid SUV made up 20% of sales, while the V60 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid estate tallied 17%.

All are green vehicles in line with the automaker’s electric strategy that aims to improve air quality.

“In the second half this year, we had a small challenge because of the global shortage of semiconductors, affecting everything run by computers,” Mr Wailes said.

He said the sales of Volvo’s first pure electric SUV, the XC40 Recharge, which debuted this year, were not included in the estimated total sales growth of 10% because of delays in delivery from the worldwide semiconductor shortage.

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