Chinese electric vehicle maker Changan Automobile plans to start producing sport utility vehicles (SUVs) from its Rayong factory in the first quarter of 2025, a move expected to intensify competition in the fast-growing Thai EV market.
“We will not only produce SUVs here in 2025, but Thailand will be the first country where we will officially launch new car models,” said Shen Xinghua, managing director and president of Changan Auto Sales (Thailand), a subsidiary of Changan Automobile.
He outlined the plan to make Thailand Changan’s production base in Asean during the 12-day Bangkok International Motor Expo that ended on Monday.
Some 3,549 Changan EVs were booked during the expo, with 90% of the total SUVs, with the model named Deepal S07. The remaining 10% were sedans dubbed Deepal L07, said Mr Shen.
SUVs are a popular segment in Thailand.
Changan plans to produce 100,000 EVs a year and initially manufacture 30,000 to 50,000 SUVs, he said.
“We are talking with our headquarters in Chongqing about whether to produce sedans at the Rayong plant. The talks should conclude soon,” said Mr Shen.
Changan plans to increase its investment budget to 10 billion baht, up from 8.86 billion, for business expansion from 2023-25.
The higher budget is to support land purchases of 300 rai to build production facilities, develop showrooms and auto parts warehouses, and implement marketing plans, he said.
The company previously bought 250 rai of land to build its factory in an industrial estate in Rayong.
Changan plans to make battery EVs, plug-in hybrid EVs and range-extended EVs for sale in the domestic market and export to Australia, New Zealand, the UK and South Africa.
Mr Shen expects EV competition in the Thai market to intensify next year as Japanese automakers prepare to launch models to compete with rivals from China, Europe and the US.
“There are seven Chinese car companies with 30 EV models available for sale in Thailand. This is really shaking the automotive industry and urging other global car makers to join the competition,” he said.
Changan expects to sell 20,000-30,000 vehicles in Thailand next year despite high interest rates and stricter lending criteria from banks as household debt balloons. The company is confident the Thai economy will improve and become healthier, said Mr Shen.