11 July 2024

The Thai government has been courting Saudi Arabia for investment in the production of electric vehicles (EVs) in Thailand, to achieve its goal of becoming the EV production hub in the ASEAN region.

According to Narit Therdsteerasukdi, secretary-general of the Board of Investment (BoI) and secretary of the National Electric Vehicles Policy Board, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has entered into a joint venture with Taiwan’s Foxconn, to develop and produce “Ceer” brand electric vehicles in the desert kingdom, with German car manufacturer BMW providing technology and innovations.

He said that the PIF has also bought a 60% stake in US-based Lucid Motor, to produce “Lucid” brand EVs in Saudi Arabia. The production plant, located in the King Abdullah Economic City, was officially opened in September.

He also said that Saudi Arabia has asked Thai manufacturers of car accessories and spare parts to open outlets in the kingdom.

The PIF is a sovereign wealth fund under the control of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with a mandate to help deliver his Vision 2030 plan, to diversify the kingdom’s oil dependent economy and create private sector jobs for its 32 million people.

Currently, 15 car manufacturers of 13 electric car brands have set up production facilities in Thailand to produce battery powered electric cars, electric pickups and electric motorcycles. Six of them are scheduled to start operations next year.

During the first nine months of this year, a total of 50,340 EVs were registered, constituting a 7.6 fold increase year on year. Investment in the development and production of EVs since 2017, when the BoI granted incentives for EV production, is estimated at about 61 billion baht.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin recently led a delegation of Thai businessmen and high-ranking officials to Saudi Arabia to discuss bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

Narit said the prime minister has asked for an update on the EV project every two weeks.