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Toyota is ready to invest in electric vehicle production in Thailand, but first needs infrastructure support from the government, Bangkok Post reports. The market leader made its stand after Thailand seeked support from Japan to build up the Kingdom as a manufacturing hub for pick-up trucks, hybrids and EVs.

Soichiro Okudaira, Toyota’s senior managing officer and chief technical officer for Asian Oceania and China, said the company was confident of building a manufacturing facility in Thailand for hybrids and EVs, but it needs to know the Thai government’s policy on the matter. Thailand has yet to develop an electric charging station network.

Okudaira said Toyota established its regional R&D unit in Thailand in 2007 with an investment of 1.3 billion baht to support its production of pickup trucks, passenger cars, hybrids and EVs. Toyota Motor Asia Pacific Engineering and Manufacturing Co (TMAP-EM), is located in Samut Prakan and can develop 52% of parts for Toyota’s hybrids that are made in Thailand such as the Prius and Camry Hybrid.

“TMAP-EM is efficient enough to support Thailand’s automotive industry in the long term. We know this because our pick-up truck Hilux Revo now uses 95% local content, up from 87% in 2007,” he said.

The now revealed fourth-generation Toyota Prius was snapped testing in Bangkok in June

The idea was hatched following Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s visit to Japan earlier this year. After his visit, Prayut authorised the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) to work closely on joint development with the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro) office in Bangkok. Both parties have since organised seven meetings with Japanese companies in Thailand.

Progress has now been made beyond talks – a record of discussions (RD) was signed earlier this week between the NESDB and the Science and Technology Ministry with Jetro. The NESDB is set to propose the details of the RD to a meeting of the National Innovation Development Committee, chaired by Gen Prayut.

According to NESDB’s secretary-general, Arkhom Termpitayapaisith, Japanese companies are willing to promote Thailand as a production hub for one-tonne pick-up trucks, hybrids and EVs if the Thai government was willing to waive import tariffs and excise tax on imported car prototypes and auto parts that had yet to be made in Thailand, the report said.

He added that Japanese firms also suggested that Thailand begin development of automotive testing centres for crash, high-speed, wind-tunnel, durability and emissions tests. Executives of Japanese firms with regional headquarters in Singapore have reportedly given their full support for the joint development.