New York City, September 26, 2023 – In a groundbreaking meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and Finance Minister engaged in talks with the visionary leader and Tesla chief, Elon Musk, delving into the realm of the electric vehicle (EV) industry. The dialogue, held in New York, carried significant implications for Thailand, which has been making strategic strides to establish itself as a major player in the rapidly expanding EV market.
Thailand, recognized as Asia’s fourth-largest automobile assembly hub, has been actively luring EV and battery manufacturers with a suite of enticing incentives and offering local EV buyers substantial tax cuts. These measures have been put in place to secure Thailand’s position as a dominant regional automotive center.
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, attending the United Nations General Assembly, took the opportunity to engage in a fruitful conversation with Elon Musk. The topics of discussion included Tesla, the innovative electric vehicle manufacturer, as well as Musk’s rocket and satellite conglomerate, SpaceX, and its ambitious internet project, Starlink.
In an official statement released by the Thai government, it was revealed that during the video conference, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin assured Elon Musk of his administration’s unwavering commitment to supporting investments within the existing incentive framework. The statement conveyed, “Tesla praised Thai human capital, which was found to be highly suitable for investment.”
Thailand has already attracted significant attention from automakers with established plants in the country, such as Toyota and Honda. These facilities collectively produce approximately 1.5 million to 2 million vehicles annually, with nearly half of the output destined for international markets.
The EV landscape in Southeast Asia has been undergoing a transformation, traditionally being dominated by Japanese car manufacturers. Counterpoint Research data revealed a noteworthy shift, with EVs accounting for a substantial 6.4% of all passenger car sales in the region during the second quarter of this year, marking a significant increase from the 3.8% reported in the first quarter.
Remarkably, approximately half of all regional EV sales are attributed to Thailand, with Vietnam and Indonesia following closely behind. Chinese car manufacturers, prominently led by BYD, have surged ahead in the race, commanding a substantial market share. Tesla, recognized for its global appeal, ventured into this burgeoning market just last year.
Counterpoint’s data further highlighted that Southeast Asia’s contribution to Tesla’s global sales remained relatively modest, at less than 1%. Nonetheless, the electric car giant continues to make strides in Thailand, affirming its enduring popularity in the region.
The talks held in New York between Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, Finance Minister, and Elon Musk underscore the pivotal role Thailand aims to play in the electric vehicle revolution, as the nation solidifies its status as a formidable contender in the ever-evolving automotive landscape.