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BYD, Hozon Auto, & SGMW Set Up Factories In ASEAN Member States In Global Push To Provide Affordable EVs

The  SAIC-GM-Wuling (SGMW) Joint Venture has a factory in Indonesia that assembles the Wuling Air. The Wuling Air has two options for the electric motor, rated at 30 kW and 50 kW, as well as two options for the battery, a 26.5 or a 28.4 kWh pack. The Wuling Air EV is assembled at the Cikarang plant in Bekasi, West Java. It will be exported soon to India and other right-hand drive markets. After the success of the original smash hit Wuling Hongguang Mini EV in China, SGMW is expanding its offering in this class of vehicles and taking the Wuling Air to more markets outside China. Having this production base will give a big boost to the local Indonesian auto industry as well as the local EV sector.

The Hozon Auto’s Neta V and its siblings are New Energy Vehicles (NEVs), which have been featuring regularly on the Chinese new vehicles sales charts. Although they don’t get close to the podium finish places like the Wuling Mini EV, Hozon Auto’s models have been doing ok in terms of consistent sales in China. They have already been exported to a few markets and already have right-hand drive options. Hozon Auto recently started construction of a production plant in Thailand with an annual production capacity of 20,000 vehicles. The plant is expected to start production by end of January next year.  The plant will be a key hub for exporting vehicles to the ASEAN member states. ASEAN Member states are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, and Singapore.

Now BYD has also started construction of a plant in Thailand with a capacity of 150,000 vehicles per year. The groundbreaking ceremony held last week coincided with BYD celebrating the milestone of delivering the 10,000th ATTO 3 in Thailand. The plan is also expected to start producing vehicles in early 2024.

It’s really great to see these NEV automakers moving to not only export vehicles to these markets, but to also establish vehicle assembly and manufacturing plants in this region to supply ASEAN member states and to also serve as base where these affordable EVs will also be exported to other right hand drive markets.

Perhaps this gives us hope that these plants will add more models from these OEMs in the very near future, especially BEVs in the affordable segments such as the Wuling Bingo and the BYD Seagull. Perhaps this experience will also help encourage these firms to set up similar assembly and manufacturing plants in other places, building on this ASEAN expansion to help drive the transition in other places around the world. It would be great if these OEMs as well as several others from China and India were to set up more assembly and manufacturing plants in South America and in Africa as well. As a lot of countries incentivize the assembly of vehicles locally through things like reduced duties and taxes for the importation of completely knocked-down or semi-knocked-down kits, as it helps lower the final costs of these vehicles in the local market and it also helps boost local industries in those regions and create much needed employment opportunities.

Image from BYD groundbreaking ceremony for new factory in Thailand courtesy of BYD

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.


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