Mercedes-Benz will start to make electric vehicles in Thailand next year. The model in question is the EQC electric SUV, and this comes after the German carmaker agreed with Thailand’s Board of Investment (BoI) to import the first batch for this year’s sales. The EQC is set to appear at the Bangkok Motor Show next month, with order books open at the event.

The Bangkok Post reports that Mercedes-Benz previously said that it postponed the EQC’s Thai introduction in 2019, because the BoI had yet to approve its plan to import up to 600 units of the EV before CKD operations start.

The BoI said Mercedes-Benz applied for a project to assemble a plug-in hybrid vehicle worth 607 million baht (RM80.7 million) and the full EV project worth 342 million baht (RM45.5 million) at its plant in Samut Prakan. The BoI’s conditions state that makers of EVs are allowed to import zero-emission cars with an exemption from import duty, which can be up to 80% of the declared price.

Roland Folger, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Thailand, said his company is working with the BoI to import the first batch of 250 EQCs.”We want to import as many as we can. Thai motorists can experience zero-emission cars under this tax scheme,” he said, while suggesting benefits such as free parking, no highway toll and bus lane access for EVs.

“It is Mercedes-Benz’s bridging strategy that the first launch sells and markets with imported cars, then the carmaker begins local assembly a year later. Meanwhile, the retail prices are unchanged,” he said. This CBU-CKD arrangement happens in Malaysia too, where the first batch of cars are CBU imports before CKD local assembly takes over – think Volvo.

EQC aside, Mercedes-Benz Thailand plans to launch the GLC 300e plug-in hybrid next month. Folger said that since 2016, the brand has sold over 16,000 PHEVs in the kingdom and PHEVs accounted for 25% of total sales last year.

Revealed in September 2019, the X253 GLC 300e 4Matic combines a 211 PS/350 Nm 2.0 litre turbo petrol engine with a 90 kW (122 PS)/440 Nm electric motor and 13.5 kWh battery. Total system output is 320 PS/700 Nm. The GLC PHEV does 0-100 km/h in 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 230 km/h. EV mode top speed is 130 km/h and electric range is between 39 and 43 km.

Malaysia doesn’t get the GLC 300e, but the facelifted GLC 200 and GLC 300 AMG Line have been available here since December 2019.

Mercedes-Benz Malaysia previewed the EQC here in June 2019 and said then that the EQC 400 4Matic will be available to order sometime this year for an estimated RM600,000. Full details of the EQC here.