Chinese carmaker BYD to build Thai electric vehicle plant

A major Chinese carmaker struck a deal Thursday to build an electric vehicle plant in Thailand, according to the local property developer, its first factory in Southeast Asia.

BYD, one of the most prominent Chinese brands in the electric vehicle market, will buy a 96-hectare plot to house the facility, from Thai property developer WHA Group.

The site — about 140 kilometres southeast of Bangkok — will eventually be able to produce up to 150,000 vehicles a year and is expected to be operational by 2024, WHA said in a statement.

The cars will be destined mainly for the Southeast Asian and European markets, it added.

China’s electric car market is crowded, with many local manufacturers vying for market share, buoyed by generous subsidies.

Chinese manufacturers are now looking to build an overseas presence.

BYD got a foothold in the European market by setting up shop in Norway before expanding to neighbouring countries.

The brand, known in Europe for its electric buses, now has operations in Hungary and France.

Originally specialising in battery production, BYD moved into the automotive sector in 2003 and has since become a heavyweight in electric vehicle production.

The firm stopped producing petrol-powered cars in April, saying it would only produce hybrid and electric models in future.

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