Thailand, already a leader in pick-up truck and small car production, has of late put in efforts to attract carmakers to build green cars such as hybrids, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and full electric vehicles (EVs) in the country.

Last year, Thailand’s Board of Investment (BoI) approved promotional privileges for carmakers. Market leader Toyota was the first to apply for and receive the BoI privileges under the hybrid category, and it will be the first to roll out a new model under the scheme in early March with the Toyota C-HR Hybrid.

PHEVs are a forte of premium brands, and BMW has now become the second German carmaker to apply for the BoI’s PHEV incentives, the Bangkok Post reports. BMW also plans to localise assembly of PHEV batteries in Thailand in 2019. Rival Mercedes-Benz announced that it was applying for the assembly of PHEVs and EVs at its joint venture plant in Samut Prakan earlier this month.

Plug-in hybrids in the premium segment are gaining ground in Thailand – sales of BMW’s iPerformance PHEVs rose by 269% last year to 10,020 units, representing 13% of all BMWs sold in the country. That’s third behind Scandinavia at 26% and Malaysia at 56% of total BMW sales. Like in Malaysia, the 330e, 530e, X5 xDrive40e and 740Le sold in Thailand are locally assembled for the domestic market, with batteries imported from Europe.

“We are making a decision about the localisation of PHEV batteries, and scheduling the manufacturing next year. It can be allocated to our Rayong plant or we may find new partners,” said Stafan Teuchert, president of BMW Group Thailand, pointing out that BMW’s Thai plant is fully-owned by the carmaker, unlike in Malaysia and Indonesia.

In 2017, BMW Thailand produced 20,002 cars, 60% of which were exported to China. The factory also assembles BMW Motorrad motorcycles and 2,209 bikes rolled out from Rayong last year. Of all the R1200 GS, F700 GS and F800 GS made, half were exported to China, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.