Toyota will reportedly establish a production base for hybrid vehicle batteries in Thailand, aiming to start manufacturing in 2020.
The Japanese car giant is looking to boost production capacity for electric-car batteries as it aims to sell 4.5 million hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2030.
The focus for battery manufacturing would be Thailand because electric cars sales in the kingdom was expected to grow due to tax incentives, Toyota sources said.
Key battery components would be imported to central Chachoengsao, east of Bangkok, where Toyota has a final assembly plant.
Toyota subsidiary Primearth EV Energy, which has factories in Japan and China, currently makes batteries for car factories around the world.
Thailand’s economy is expected to grow by 4.1 per cent this year, up from 3.6 per cent predicted last August, according to the World Bank.
“Thailand cannot attain advanced-country status if it cannot meet the challenges of innovation,” said Dr Kobsak Pootrakool, the Prime Minister’s Office minister.
An acceleration in capital goods imports suggested a recovery in domestic demand recovery, the Washington-based body said.
“With economic growth exceeding 4 per cent this year, for the first time since 2012, Thailand has the potential, with intensifying structural reforms, to raise productivity and grow even faster over the medium term,” said Ulrich Zachau, the World Bank’s Asean director.
“In addition to education and skills reform and strong implementation of quality infrastructure investments, increasing competition, especially in services, will be key for boosting innovation and lifting Thailand onto a new path of higher, long-term growth.”
Thailand ranked 52 out of 128 in the Global Innovation Index last year.
Thai exports were expected to rise 6 per cent this year, although the threat of a US-China trade war may endanger that, according to World Bank economist Kiatipong Ariyapruchya.
The threatened trade dispute was yet to have a significant impact on Thai shipments, which were also underpinned by demand from other markets, including domestic demand, he added.
The Bank of Thailand in March raised its economic growth forecast for this year to 4.1 per cent from 3.9 per cent and projected a 7-per-cent gain in exports, instead of 4 per cent.
Last year, the Thai economy expanded 3.9 per cent, the fastest pace in five years since the military coup of May 2014, while exports rose by nearly 10 per cent.
Hello Kitty meets the Toyota Hilux in Phuket. Picture credit: Flickr