Thailand, the regional auto production champ majoring in pick-up trucks and eco cars, is seeking to be a hub for hybrid and electric vehicle manufacturing as well. However, support from the Thai government via incentives is not as strong as that given by Malaysia, says US-based consultancy Frost & Sullivan (F&S).

All three major car producing countries in ASEAN – Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia – have initiatives for eco-friendly vehicles, but ours is considered the most advanced for energy-efficient vehicles (EEVs), F&S VP for Asia-Pacific Vivek Vaidya told a seminar hosted by the Electric Vehicle Association of Thailand recently.

One good thing about the Malaysian package is that manufacturers can localise EEV production into a variety of car segments including hybrid and electric with small production volumes, the Bangkok Post report stated.

honda-jazz-honda-city-eev-2Malaysia has given EEV status to models ranging from the Axia to the C-Class; incentives are customised

“Honda has started to localise assembly of its hybrid vehicles under Malaysia’s EEV incentives, while Mazda’s factory there exports the vehicles. That country has stimulated hybrid and electric demand to account for 5% of the 666,465 vehicles sold there last year,” Vaidya said. EEVs accounted for less than 1% of the 881,832 vehicles sold in Thailand last year.

The consultancy’s rep added that while Thailand remained an important regional manufacturing hub and one with the strongest export orientation, the country’s eco-car scheme is focused on production volume and uses the traditional internal combustion engine platform.

The Detroit of the East is used to big numbers, but Vaidya suggests that the Thai government push for hybrid and electric production by providing investment incentives, and not focus on production volume in the initial stage. Waiving import duties on CBU imported units and subsidising prices would be effective in the short term, he said. Don’t be too rigid, in other words.

Mercedes has made the most out of Malaysia’s hybrid incentives – S400h and E300h are attractively priced

Now, it’s easy to confuse the “EEV” term as one used to solely describe hybrids and EVs, but Malaysia defines EEVs as “vehicles that meet a defined specifications in terms of carbon emission level (g/km) and fuel consumption (l/100 km) – EEV includes fuel efficient vehicles, hybrids, EVs and alternatively-fuelled vehicles, e.g. CNG, LPG, Biodiesel, Ethanol, Hydrogen and Fuel Cell.”

That includes non-hybrid, regular ICE-powered cars that are fuel efficient. Such cars that have attained EEV status in Malaysia include the Perodua Axia, Great Wall M4, Honda City and Jazz, Mazda CX-5 and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, models that vary greatly in size and type. Incentives are customised, not explicitly spelled out.

Separately, companies that locally assemble hybrid models get special incentives. Notable examples of CKD hybrids are the Mercedes-Benz E 300 Hybrid, S 400 Hybrid and the Toyota Camry Hybrid. The just-launched, plug-in hybrid Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine will also be assembled locally.