EV players eye wider Asian market

BEIJING, China (China Daily) — Asia is emerging after Europe as a new market for China-made new energy vehicles, attracting Chinese carmakers to introduce their cutting-edge products and scale up investment in the region.

Last week, Chinese manufacturer Aiways won an order for up to 150,000 electric vehicles from Thai e-mobility service provider Phoenix EV to be delivered over five years. The deal marks the largest EV order from Chinese carmakers worldwide.

“The cooperation with Phoenix EV represents a significant step for the Aiways brand,” said Alexander Klose, executive vice-president of overseas operations at the carmaker.

“With its initial volume of 100,000 units, plus the option of 50,000 more, the order is a real milestone and the foundation for our Southeast Asia strategy,” he said.

Both sides are planning to set up a joint venture to take over the sales and servicing of the vehicles, and also create its own charging and battery-swapping infrastructure.

Aiways already has operations in Singapore and Laos. With Phoenix EV in Thailand, Aiways now claims to be “in the best possible position “in major growth markets in Southeast Asia.

Hozon, another Chinese electric car startup, started its globalization campaign this year, with Thailand as the first stop.

“Thailand is a hub for us to explore the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ market,” said the carmaker, which produces Neta-branded vehicles.

Its Neta V crossover hit the Thai market in August and one month later expanded its deal with Thailand’s largest energy firm PTT to explore the market by producing and installing charging facilities.

In September, Hozon launched the Neta V in Nepal, introduced its Neta U SUV and Neta V into Israel, and inked a deal with Lao car dealer Keo to introduce the Neta U. In October, it became the first EV startup to make inroads in Myanmar.

Hozon said its vehicles have proved popular in those countries. Within a month of its first model going overseas, their combined sales exceeded 5,200 units, it said.

Established Chinese carmakers are speeding up their pace in the region as well.

China’s largest SUV and pickup maker Great Wall Motors is showcasing a number of its models at the 39th Thailand International Motor Expo held in Bangkok.

Its booth at the expo, which was recently held highlighted NEVs, including the Tank 500 hybrid electric vehicle and Haval H6 SUVs and the Ora Good Cat GT hatchback.

Narong Sritalayon, a sales executive of Great Wall Motors Thailand, said the carmaker is planning to launch four NEVs in the country in 2023.

There are five NEVs from the Chinese carmaker in the Thai market, with their combined sales reaching 13,000 units.

The carmaker is speeding up efforts to build charging infrastructure for local customers.

Also, via its app, its customers have access to 70 percent of the public charging facilities in Thailand, the company said.

HOZON showcases the Neta S at the Chengdu auto show last August.

Great Wall Motors said Thailand is a regional hub for its business in the ASEAN. The carmaker entered Thailand two years ago when it acquired a plant from General Motors.

The carmaker’s lineup at the motor expo has attracted more than 200 car dealers from 50 countries and regions to experience its latest products and technologies.

Last week, Great Wall Motors unveiled its electric car marque Ora in Malaysia, with two sedans launched at the event.

Zhang Jiaming, president of the carmaker’s ASEAN operations, said Great Wall Motors will launch nine models in the country over three years. With most of them being NEVs, it aims to be the leading NEV brand in Malaysia.

Wuling, one of the most popular Chinese EV brands, is producing its Air EVs in Indonesia. The compact models served as shuttles at the G20 Bali summit held in November.

It hit the local market in August as SAIC-GM-Wuling’s first electric model to be sold overseas. The automaker said it has received more than 5,000 orders for the model, which is the most popular NEV in Indonesia.

Indonesia, as the largest vehicle market in Southeast Asia, expects the share of electric motorbikes and electric cars made in the country to reach 20 percent of total car production by 2025.

Indonesia is setting a 2025 deadline for all state-owned companies to use EVs as part of its goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2060, according to Bloomberg.

China’s car exports reached the milestone of two million units in 2021, with more than 50-percent growth in the first 10 months of 2022, said Xu. He expects total vehicle exports this year to exceed three million units, with NEVs as a driving force.

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