BMW X5 xDrive40e Munich 4

It was previously reported that Thailand is now trying to position itself as a hub for green car production after being successful as a global destination for pick-up truck and eco car production. The government recently proposed the idea to carmakers, and has pledged investment privileges and full support for finance, R&D, human resources and infrastructure.

With the initial reports mentioning hybrid, electric and even hydrogen vehicles, there seems to be some progress in the form of narrowing down, and getting realistic. Bangkok Post reports that the carmakers based in Thailand are seeking government support to start investing in plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) production in the country, according to the Office of Industrial Economics (OIE).

The carmakers will conduct further discussions with the OIE this month to hammer out the details for support measures the government could provide to help kick-start investment in PHEV production, said OIE director-general Siriruj Chulakaratana.

The most likely green vehicles carmakers are initially expected to start investing in are PHEVs, Siriruj said, adding that the talks will cover corporate income tax incentives, excise taxes and other related measures. The OIE will then present the results of their talks to Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha

Producing high-tech green cars isn’t that straightforward, though. Cost is a big question; can Thailand produce PHEVs at low enough prices? “Right now PHEVs are around 50% more expensive than normal cars, so we will have to discuss how to lower prices,” Siriruj said.

The D-G said that should negotiations prove successful, each carmaker would be able to invest around 20 billion baht (RM2.2b) to set up PHEV production facilities in Thailand, including R&D centres. “One important factor to consider is whether there is also investment for production of the parts used in these PHEVs such as batteries, converters and motors,” he added.

Thai-assembled PHEVs are currently being sold in the Land of Smiles by Mercedes-Benz. The three-pointed star brand has the S500e (6.39 to 6.99 million baht) and C350e (sedan and wagon, 2.99 to 3.69 million baht), while German archrival BMW sells the imported 330e (3.09 million baht) and X5 xDrive40e (5.39 million baht), both in M Sport trim.

We’ve driven three of these four powerful yet frugal luxury machines – click on the links to read the reviews.