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Chinese Electric Cars Booming in Southeast Asia

Published: 3.12.2024

The electric vehicle industry in China has been positioning itself as the global center for automotive technolog with influence extending in Southeast Asia, where strong synergies between the two regions are reshaping the automotive landscape.

With Southeast Asia poised to invest $2.8 trillion in infrastructure by 2030, presenting a lucrative opportunity for China's EV industry to expand its reach.

Southeast Asia has emerged as a battleground for Chinese and foreign automotive brands, particularly Japanese brands. The region's heavy reliance on imported oil, with countries like Thailand importing around 70% of their crude oil, creates a conducive environment for the entry of Chinese EVs. Rising oil prices have further fueled the demand for EVs in Southeast Asia, with electric vehicle sales in the region growing by 894% in the second half of 2023, the fastest growth globally.

Chinese EV brands have made significant inroads into Southeast Asia, capturing a substantial market share. In 2023, Chinese EVs accounted for 75% of Southeast Asia's market share, up from 38% in 2022. Thailand, in particular, has seen a surge in Chinese EV sales, with brands like BYD gaining significant traction. BYD's partnership with Rever Automotive in Thailand has propelled its sales, with about 80% of electric vehicles sold in Thailand now coming from Chinese brands.

Several factors contribute to the success of Chinese EVs in Southeast Asia. Chinese brands have forged close partnerships with local companies, leveraging their mature retail networks.

Additionally, Chinese brands have committed to localizing production, with companies like Great Wall and SAIC establishing production lines in Thailand. These initiatives have not only boosted sales but also created a favorable environment for Chinese EVs in Southeast Asia.

Southeast Asian countries are keen to develop their own EV industries and have welcomed Chinese automotive brands to help achieve this goal. Thailand, for instance, has introduced policies to support the growth of its EV industry, offering subsidies to buyers of electric vehicles. The country aims to prioritize Chinese automotive brands as it seeks to become a regional hub for electric vehicle manufacturing.

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