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Thailand’s Board of Investment has approved investments worth a total of 52.7 billion baht (RM5.23 billion) for Phase 2 of the country’s Eco Car programme, according to a report by just-auto.

That’s almost 24 billion baht (RM2.41 billion) up on the combined investment in Phase 1, which was launched in 2007 and involved five carmakers, all Japanese. Phase 1 Eco Cars include Hondas Brio and Brio Amaze, Mitsubishis Mirage and Attrage, Nissans Almera and March, the Toyota Yaris and the Suzuki Swift, all of which have 1.2 litre petrol engines in Thailand.

This time, just-auto reports that six carmakers are in on the party, including newcomers Ford and General Motors. Ford has set aside 18.2 billion baht (RM1.83 billion) to build a new engine plant, as well as a facility capable of producing 180,000 Eco Cars per year.

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GM, however, has pledged 13.1 billion baht (RM1.32 billion) for a 158,000-unit annual capacity plant and a related engine plant, while Nissan and Toyota plan to invest 6.7 billion (RM674 million) and 1.9 billion baht (RM191 million) respectively to up their capacities – Nissan by an extra 123,000 units and Toyota to 160,000 units per year.

The carmaker with the largest Eco Car capacity will be Mitsubishi. The carmaker has set aside an additional 4.9 billion baht (RM493 million) to lift its total Eco Car capacity to 233,000 units per year, bringing its total Eco Car investment to 7.7 billion baht (RM774 million).

The sixth carmaker in Eco Car Phase 2 is not mentioned, but Volkswagen has been trying hard for some time to get its foot on the ladder, applying earlier this year to set up a plant near the port of Bangkok. Could the German giant be lucky number six?

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After all the investments have been completed, Thailand’s entire Eco Car production capacity will leap to 1.58 million units per year. Total investment is forecasted to surpass 90 billion baht (RM9.05 billion), not including those expected to be made in the parts supply chain sector, according to just-auto.

The requirements in Phase 2 of Thailand’s Eco Car programme include (for the vehicle) a fuel economy under 4.3 litres per 100 km, CO2 emissions under 100 grams per km, engines displacing 1.3 litres and under (petrol) or 1.5 litres and under (diesel), along with Euro 5, R94 and R95 compliance.

Throw in a minimum investment of 6.5 billion baht (RM653 million) and a minimum production of 100,000 units per year by the fourth year of operation, and the excise duty incentive given is 14% (normally 30%); dropping to 12% if the engine is E85-compatible.