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China's Geely in early talks to enter Thailand EV market: Sources

BANGKOK: Major Chinese automaker Geely is in the early stages of planning an entry to Thailand's electric vehicle (EV) market, including weighing models for import and local manufacturing, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions.

The considerations include whether to market an entry-level electric car in Thailand as well as an electric pickup truck from its new Radar brand, the people told Reuters, asking not to be named because the talks remain private.

"Geely has no such plans," a company media representative said without elaborating, also declining to provide details about any talks it was having about investments in the country.

Thailand's Board of Investment held discussions with five major Chinese EV makers including Geely during a roadshow to China in April, its Secretary-General Narit Therdsteerasukdi said.

The others were BYD, Chongqing Changan Automobile, JAC Motors and Jiangling Motors, according to the agency.

"All expressed keen interest in Thailand's policy to develop a regional EV production base and an integrated EV supply chain," Narit said, without providing more details of the talks with Geely.

Thailand, the world's tenth-biggest auto producer, is searching for new investments as it seeks to protect and diversify a manufacturing base that has been heavily reliant on Japanese brands and combustion engines.

The country aims to convert around 30 per cent of its annual production of 2.5 million vehicles into EVs by 2030, according to a government plan.

BYD and China's Great Wall Motor are already working on building local EV production in Thailand.

Discussions with Geely have faced an additional complication because of the way the company has given working-level autonomy to its brand-level operating groups like Geometry and Radar Auto, one of the people said.

"They have to decide what model to bring to Thailand," the second person briefed on the discussions said, adding that Geely's review included the possibility of building a plant in the country.

Thailand offers some subsidies for EVs, provided automakers commit to bringing production of cars and parts to the country over a period of several years.

Geely, which owns a portfolio of brands including Swedish automaker Volvo, Polestar, Lotus and Zeekr, doubled its stake in luxury carmaker Aston Martin in May.

It also has a presence in Southeast Asia through a 49.9 per cent stake in Malaysian carmaker Proton.

Geometry is an electric car brand Geely launched in 2019. Sales in China nearly tripled in 2022 led by the Geometry A sedan. Geely started delivery of the Radar RD6, China's first mass-market electric pickup truck, in February.

China's Great Wall Motor has said it is considering a research and development centre in Thailand that could work on battery-powered pickup trucks.

Pickups are a critical part of Thailand's auto market, comprising more than half of overall light vehicle sales last year and a segment dominated by Japanese carmakers including Toyota Motor Corp and Isuzu Motors Ltd.

Source: Reuters/zl


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