Prime Minister and Finance Minister Srettha Thavisin held talks with Tesla chief Elon Musk during a visit to New York and they discussed the electric vehicle industry. Thailand, Asia’s fourth-largest automobile assembly hub, has been offering incentives to EV and battery makers, as well as tax cuts to local EV buyers, to remain a regional auto center.
Prime Minister Srettha, who was in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly, said he spoke with Musk about EV manufacturer Tesla and his rocket and satellite company SpaceX, including its internet venture Starlink.
In a statement, the Thai government said the premier told Musk in a video conference that his administration was ready to support investments within the existing incentive framework. The statement said, “Tesla praised Thai human capital, which was suitable for investment.”
Automakers with plants in Thailand include Toyota and Honda. The country produces about 1.5 million to 2 million vehicles annually, of which about half are exported. EVs have been steadily gaining traction in Southeast Asia, a market traditionally dominated by Japanese carmakers.
Counterpoint Research data showed EVs accounted for 6.4% of all passenger car sales in the region in the second quarter, up from 3.8% in the first quarter.
Around half of all regional EV sales are from Thailand, followed by Vietnam and Indonesia, with Chinese carmakers like BYD leading by a wide margin. Tesla, also popular in Thailand, launched models in the growing market last year. According to Counterpoint, Southeast Asia accounted for less than 1% of Tesla’s global sales. (NNT)