Elon Musk’s Tesla launched two electric vehicle (EV) models in Thailand on Wednesday, taking on the Japanese automakers who dominate the region.
The two new electric vehicles, costing between $48,447 and $71,205, come as Thailand’s government pushes for more EV production and adoption with tax cuts and subsidies.
Customers who showed up to Tesla’s launch in a luxury mall in central Bangkok said they were interested in the new cars being offered.
“I’m excited. The price differences aren’t significant [from other EV brands],” said office worker Thitipun Paisirikul, 36, adding he expected the re-sale value of the car would be high.
The US automaker plans to start selling its EVs in Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy via online channels, with deliveries set to start early next year.
But it faces stiff competition from Chinese brands like BYD and Great Wall Motors, which have set up showrooms and distribution partners in recent years to reach customers and offer EVs with prices starting at 800,000 baht.
Thailand is Asia’s fourth-largest auto assembly and export hub for companies like Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co Ltd. It produces about 1.5 million to 2 million vehicles annually, of which about half are exported.
Fuel-based vehicles, especially made by Japanese brands, still dominate the market and the uptake of EVs has gradually gained momentum, with about 7,000 new battery EVs registered in the first ten months of 2022, according to the Thailand Automotive Institute, up from 2,000 last year.
The government wants at least 30% of vehicles produced in the country to be electric by 2030.
- Reuters, with additional editing from Alfie Habershon