Great Wall Motor plans to set up new battery plant in Thailand – local Ora Good Cat production next year

According to a report by Reuters, Great Wall Motor (GWM) is readying plans to invest up to USD30 million (RM138 million) to build a new battery pack assembly plant in Thailand. In an interview with the news outlet, Narong Sritalayon, managing director of Great Wall Motor Thailand, said local production of the Ora Good Cat will begin next year.

In addition to the battery plant, the GWM is looking at the possibility of establishing a research and development centre in Thailand that could work on fully electric pick-up trucks. Dependent on government subsidies, a new R&D centre in Thailand would support the country’s goal of being a regional electric vehicle (EV) hub, while also expanding GWM’s global R&D layout that covers Europe, Asia and North America.

GWM isn’t the only Chinese carmaker to invest in Thailand, as BYD has also announced its plans to set up shop in the country. Even so, Toyota and Isuzu remain dominant forces, with the brands’ pick-up trucks making up more than half of sales last year. “I think there is a lot of things we can learn from Thailand’s unique market for pickup trucks,” Narong said.

Thailand is targeting to have EVs account for 30% of its automotive production by 2030 and has been aggressive in attracting investments by offering financial incentives to car companies as well as car buyers. Increased localisation of components, including battery packs, would help GWM meet the requirements set by the Thailand government’s incentive scheme.

Great Wall Motor plans to set up new battery plant in Thailand – local Ora Good Cat production next year

Currently, the only EV sold by GWM in Thailand is the Ora Good Cat, which was launched in November 2021. The carmaker also sells electrified Haval models that are produced at the former General Motors plant in Rayong, which GWM acquired following the American company’s exit from the country.

Narong noted the battery plant could require an investment of up to one billion baht (RM133 million) depending on the size of the facility that will be decided within the next six months. SVOLT Energy Technology, a subsidiary of GWM, will be responsible for producing battery packs in Thailand in the initial phase.

Demand and government support will be determining factors for increasing production capacity at the new battery plant, with Narong adding the facility could also be a contract manufacturer to other carmakers.

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