Honda to sell more hybrid cars in Thailand, puts EV drive on hold

28, Mar. 2019

BANGKOK, NNA – Honda Motor Co. is shifting its focus in Thailand away from marketing expensive electric vehicles to selling more hybrid cars.

Honda Automobile (Thailand) Co. Chief Operating Officer Pitak Pruittisarikorn told news media last week that selling EVs in the country is difficult because of the expensive batteries, low consumer demand and lack of charging stations.

He said the company will postpone local investment in production of fully electric vehicles.

Honda is taking advantage of the Thai government subsidy program to produce eco-friendly automobiles.

In May, it will introduce a new Accord premium sport sedan with gasoline-engine, priced at 1.5 million baht ($47,260), and two hybrid Accords with gasoline engine and electric motor, priced in a range of 1.65 million to 1.8 million baht.

The company aims to sell 9,000 units of the new Accords within a year of the launch. Last year, Honda sold 128,290 vehicles in Thailand, including 3,300 Accords.

The government subsidy is meant to encourage domestic production of hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars, as well as electric vehicles.

But last week Honda joined Toyota and Nissan in opposing the government's “Eco EV” program, calling the EV technology the government is proposing cheap and unsuitable, according to a report in the Bangkok Post.

The Eco EV program is viewed as an add-on to the government scheme launched in March 2017, the report said. The main purpose is to encourage carmakers to produce mass-market EVs with affordable price tags, similar to the eco-car segment, it said.