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Kia mulls EV plant in Thailand to take on Toyota and BYD Leave a comment


Can Kia challenge Toyota, which has dominated the market in Thailand, with affordable EVs? Chinese automakers like BYD are already stealing market share, but Kia is in talks over a new EV plant in Thailand that could help position itself as an early leader.

Affordable electric cars are coming

Kia has already revamped the brand as the industry transitions to electric with a new logo and design.

The Korean automaker is also seeing early success with its first three-row electric SUV, the EV9. Meanwhile, Kia has bigger (or, smaller and more affordable) plans.

Kia revealed a new EV lineup at its first EV Day in October. It confirmed that the EV5 electric SUV, a Volvo EX30 rival, will start at $35,000.

Two new concepts were unveiled at the event: the Kia EV3 and EV4. The EV3 is an electric crossover influenced that essentially shrinks the EV9 into a more compact and affordable package.

According to Kia, the EV4 is “an entirely new type of sedan.” Although its four doors suggest it is a sedan, the design stands as a symbol of innovation.

Kia EV lineup from left to right: EV6, EV4, EV5, EV3, EV9 (Source: Kia)

The new EVs are part of Kia’s plans to launch a wide-ranging EV lineup with prices from $30,000 to $80,000. Kia’s smaller EV5, EV4, and EV3 will be priced below $50,000 to promote widespread adoption of EVs.

Kia to take on Toyota, BYD with new EV plant in Thailand

Kia may bring these low-cost EVs to overseas markets like Thailand, where legacy automakers like Toyota have traditionally dominated sales.

According to two government sources (via Reuters), Kia is in talks to build an EV plant in Thailand to gain an early lead in the Southeast Asian nation.

Kia EV5 battery options and range (Source: Kia)

The sources, who wished to remain anonymous, said the discussions were ongoing and incentive-based. “They have a serious proposal that they’ve come with,” one of the sources said. “The ball is in their court.”

Kia and Thailand’s Board of Investment (BOI) have yet to confirm. However, Thailand’s BOI said Kia was considering investing in the nation after media reports suggested the automaker moved in another direction.

2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line (Source: Kia)

Thailand is Asia’s largest car maker and exporter. The nation is seeing a surge in EV sales with hefty incentives, tax breaks, and other measures to promote domestic production. Thailand wants 30% of the vehicles built in the country to be electric by 2030.

Tesla is also in talks with Thailand over a new plant that could involve EV and battery production, according to an official earlier this week.

BYD Atto 3 (Source: BYD)

Although legacy automakers like Toyota and Honda have long dominated the market, Chinese automakers have committed to over $1.44 billion in EV investments.

BYD, the global EV leader, was Thailand’s best-selling electric car brand last year. Its Atto 3 electric SUV was the top-selling EV, with over 19,200 models handed over. The company’s first plant in the region is expected to begin production this year. Once up and running, BYD aims to produce 150,000 EVs a year.

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