In an attempt to speed up development of its electric vehicle market ahead of its neighbours, Thailand is aiming to establish a National New Generation Vehicle Committee, and this will be accomplished within the next three months, according to the country’s industry ministry.

This comes after the government made the request through two public and private agencies, and follows on the call made in September by the Thailand Automotive Institute (TAI) that a committee be established to drive the government’s EV scheme and increase sales as the market develops, the Bangkok Post reports.

The new committee will gather officials from three ministries (industry, energy and transport) to work on EV policies, industry minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit said. “The ministry agrees to speed up EV policies as this sector has been promoted as a targeted industry under the S-curve policy,” he said.

“The ministry will propose deputy prime minister Somkid Jatusripitak approve this committee very soon, and prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will also be informed,” he added.

Efforts to promote the EV industry in Thailand began in March 2017, with the government – through the country’s board of investment (BoI) – offering investment privileges (since expired in 2018) to companies, with hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric versions of vehicles being eligible.

The BoI reported 13 companies were granted EV privileges, including Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, SAIC Motor-CP, Mitsubishi and Mine Mobility, but the Electric Vehicle Association of Thailand (EVAT) has said that the existing arrangement doesn’t offer much in the way of incentives on the demand side of things. Some automakers are also postponing their investment plans after the government denied their volume requests to import EVs without duties.

Among those calling for progress is the Thailand Potential Development Networkr. Its chairman Somchai Sarovat said that a clear-cut plan was needed because three versions of electrified vehicles were allowed, leading carmakers to invest in assembling the lowest technology – in this case, hybrids – and not full electric models as the government expected.

He said that current EV policies have no committee taking responsibility or following up, while the three ministries have no power to make decisions or take action. He added that the government should revise its EV policies to have a single direction and be in line with global changes. “The network is requesting the government should support the only highest technology, battery EVs,” said Somchai.

“The EV technology is changing very fast on a global level and disrupting car and component production. The network wants to see new battery-powered cars on local roads. Otherwise, Thailand will be left behind neighbouring countries where their governments are speeding up laying the foundation for EVs,” he explained.

The TAI’s long-term roadmap for Thailand is for it to become a production hub for EVs in Southeast Asia, with a goal to produce 2.5 million electric cars by 2030, of which 1.5 million units are set for domestic sale.