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Vietnamese automaker Vinfast to start selling electric vehicles in Thailand

AP – Vietnamese automaker VinFast announced Tuesday it plans to sell its electric vehicles in Thailand and said it had tied up with auto dealers to open showrooms in the country.

VinFast, which only began exporting its electric vehicles (EVs) last year, faces stiff competition in Thailand from Chinese automakers like BYD. Tesla also recently entered the fray. All were displaying their latest models at the Bangkok International Motor Show.

The Thai EV market is small but growing fast, buoyed by incentives and subsidies from the government. The country of more than 70 million plans to convert 30 per cent of the 2.5 million vehicles it makes annually into EVs by 2030.

VinFast hopes to start selling both its electric scooters and electric SUVs in the country in the next two months, VinFast Thailand Chief Executive Officer Vu Dang Yen Hang told The Associated Press.

Details about pricing and buying the EVs are likely to be announced later this year.

Thailand accounted for 58 per cent of all EV sales in Southeast Asia in 2022, ahead of both Vietnam and Indonesia, according to market research firm Counterpoint Research. But the EV market remains small, accounting for only 0.5 per cent of EV sales worldwide in 2022.

Thailand is trying to change this with incentives to promote manufacturing and sales of EVs, such as reducing import duties and paying subsidies to make them more price competitive. VinFast has set a target of selling its cars in 50 markets worldwide by the end of 2024.

Initially it’ll rely on existing charging developers in Thailand, but the long term plan was to work alongside V-Green, a company that builds EV charging stations and is owned by VinFast’s parent company, said Hang.

“We will be working alongside (V-Green) to build infrastructure for our customers in Thailand who are using our cars,” she said.

V-Green was launched this month and plans to spend USD404 million in the next two years to build charging stations for VinFast cars in different countries. Like VinFast, it is a part of the sprawling conglomerate Vingroup, that began as an instant noodle company in Ukraine in the 1990s. It is founded and run by Vietnam’s richest man Pham Nhat Vuong.

VinFast’s foray into Thailand is part of a global expansion that has included exports of EVs to the United States (US).

The company is building an EV factory in North Carolina, where production is slated to begin later in the year.

Chief executive officer of VinFast Thailand Vu Dang Yen Hang. PHOTO: AP