The household names of the auto industry are introducing hybrids and plug-in hybrids in Thailand, riding on the Board of Investment’s (BoI) fresh electric vehicle incentive programme for carmakers to build hybrids, plug-in hybrids and EVs in the country.

Market leader Toyota was the first to apply for and receive BoI privileges under the hybrid category, and it’s the first to roll out a new model under the scheme with the Toyota C-HR Hybrid. Premium brands BMW and Mercedes-Benz are on the trail as well, the latter having recently announced a 100 million euro (RM483 million) investment in the country, to go into the extension of an existing car plant and a new hybrid battery assembly plant.

But there are other punters as well. A Thai affiliate of Japan’s FOMM Corporation will apply for BoI incentives to make an electric car in Chon Buri, and the assembly line is expected to start churning in August. The car in question is this, the FOMM One. FOMM stands for “First One Mile Mobility” by the way.

The tiny electric car was on show at the 2018 Bangkok Motor Show, and FOMM was taking pre-orders for the first 2,000 units for 599,900 baht (RM74,350). Thereafter, the FOMM One will be priced at 664,000 baht (RM82,297). Deliveries are expected to start next year and FOMM is looking at exports to ASEAN and Europe in the future.

The FOMM One looks like a toy and is constructed like a cheap one inside; the foul smell (we’re not sure if it’s the plastics) means we didn’t linger too long. Amazingly it’s a four-seater despite the 2,585 mm length and 1,295 mm width. There’s just one pedal, for the brakes – the driver needs to pull the steering wheel paddles to accelerate.

The 630 kg One has a detachable cassette type 12 kWh lithium-ion battery (clearly visible from the back) powering two 5 kW (6.7 hp, 280 Nm) in-wheel motors at the front. Charging (AC Type 2, port in front) takes six hours, and a full charge is good for a 160 km claimed range under WLTC (worldwide harmonised light vehicles test cycle) standards.

There’s some localisation involved too. FOMM claims that in a flood, the One will be able to “float on water”, although it’s not clear how that will happen. The little EV will also have a “high power cooling system” to beat our region’s heat.