E-vehicle industry enters talks to supply Thai counterparts

"We see a potential for collaboration between the Electric Vehicle Association of Thailand (EVAT) and Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (EVAP) as both are strong trading partners and are neighbors," EVAP President Rommel T. Juan said during a joint media briefing on Manufacturing Expo 2016 at the Dusit Thani Manila in Makati City.

Asked for a target timetable to start exports, EVAT President Yossapong Laoonual said in the same venue: "We just started discussions today and we will see how we can work together. We'd like to introduce more of the Thai companies and also invite the academe side from the Philippines to work together with us."

Mr. Laoonual said his group sees an "opportunity to take advantage of the zero tariff base which will enable automakers in ASEAN to penetrate markets in neighboring countries," as well as accelerate the sector's growth in the bloc.

The Philippines plans to manufacture the "bulky parts," while Thailand can produce "power trains including the motors," according to EVAP.

Bangkok's industry is still "young" as EVAT started operations just last year, but Manila-based manufacturers are now "ready" to export should the need arise.

"It can be started this year, we just have to find the market first. The companies in the Philippines are ready if the market requires it," Mr. Juan said in an interview after the event.

The is the first time the Philippines has partnered with a fellow ASEAN member state for electric vehicle exports. It is also in talks with Japan and Taiwan for similar deals.

While Mr. Juan said there is an opportunity in the ASEAN bloc's "single market and elimination of tariff barriers," he also acknowledged that Thailand may have an advantage over the Philippines.

"The Thai automotive industry is more advanced. They have bigger factories, high tech facilities and lower utilities," he explained. "It might be challenging to compete with them."

EVAP said it is on track to meet its target of deploying one million electric vehicles on the road by 2020, and the partnership with Thailand can help "accelerate" its progress.

At present, five foreign companies have set up shop in the Philippines to cash in on the growing local electric vehicle sector.

Source: Business Daily