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Thailand charges towards an electric car future, with a few speed bumps

The Thaiger

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Thailand charges towards an electric car future, with a few speed bumps | The Thaiger
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Thailand has the biggest automotive industry in Southeast Asia and the 12th largest in the world. Most of those coming out of Thai factories, well just about all really, are standard internal combustion engines with a few ‘hybrid’ models sprinkled in there as well. The hybrids include electric motors and charging systems which saves fuel and load on the petrol engines.

But there is a strong tilt to electric cars as a future for Thailand’s massive auto industry. There are currently 19 major auto manufacturers in Thailand, all trying to move towards a slice of the future EV pie. There’s also a handful of electric car start-ups working within the Kingdom.

The Thai Energy Ministry’s Energy Planning and Policy Office says that purchases of electric vehicles in Thailand will rise from just 9,000 back in 2018 to over 400,000 in 2028. They’ve peered further into the future too, predicting 1.2 million EVs in 2036 and 690 charging stations scattered around the country.

Just this week a major Thai petro-chemical company, Bangchak, announced that the company is planning to install EV charging stations at all its petrol stations under an MoU for clean energy business development signed with the Provincial Electricity Authority. That will be another 62 charging stations installed this year with other petrol companies and coffee company Amazon signalling they’re getting their electric charging vibe happening too.

For its part, the Thai government provides incentives in the form of low import tariffs for importers and tax exemptions for manufacturers, but few incentives for consumers at this stage. But, despite the incentives, the Electric Vehicle Association of Thailand says that Thailand’s EV take-up rate is too slow.

Three HEV models have been locally assembled since 2009: the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan X-Trail. Mercedes-Benz BlueTEC hybrid engines have been assembled in Thailand since 2013 before upgrading to a PHEV platform in 2016. BMW began PHEV assembly in Thailand in 2016. Toyota assembles 7,000 HEVs a year in Thailand and makes 70,000 EV batteries.

But there is little doubt the popularity of locally built and imported EVs will rise over the next few years. There will be more choice, the cars will become more affordable, travel further on a charge, and there will be more convenient and numerous refuelling stations around the country.

There’s certainly now general consensus among international motorists that it’s time to move to eco-friendly alternatives as the best long-term solution to vehicle-produced air pollution from fossil fuels. Up to now the costs of the electric alternatives have been high, ownership seen as a ‘statement’ rather than as ‘just a car’, and the lack of refuelling stations making owning an electric vehicle more problematic.

It’s certainly not about performance anymore with many new electric cars now making their petrol cousins look like grandma’s Sunday drive in the old Volvo (with apologies to Volvo drivers of the past. But… really…).

But, so far, Thai motorists haven’t embraced EVs. Certainly many are waiting for more availability of infrastructure to support EV, such as recharging stations. The price is still higher than an equivalent petrol or diesel model and the selection has been limited. There’s also been a lot of new ‘hybrid’ models – part electric, part conventional engine – that are confusing the buyers who don’t yet have a clear understanding of what an EV is and what a hybrid is, how they work and the various versions offered by car-makers.

Whilst many of the hybrid versions are offered as part of a current model line-up, the full EVs are usually a stand-alone design.

There’s also the old perception that they don’t have any performance, don’t go far between charges, the batteries need replacing every few years and they will be difficult to resell. In all cases there have been huge technical and infrastructure advances making the claims mostly redundant.

A survey last year by Frost & Sullivan suggested that 37% of Asians are currently interested in owning an EV, with those in the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia having the highest purchasing power and interest in upgrading. The reasons behind their motivation to purchase EVs included the environment, safety, convenience and financial readiness.

Over the next ten years Thailand is expected to have 690 recharging stations nationwide, that compares to around 25,000 petrol\gas stations around the Kingdom now.

With the Thai government slowly getting behind EVs, and the government and industry’s need to future-proof the car manufacturing business, there is a powerful future for electric cars in Thailand. The next 12 months will be a key period to stamp a “powerful” foundation on a revised car industry.

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Business

Minor International battles Marriott over popular Phuket hotel property in court

The Thaiger

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Minor International battles Marriott over popular Phuket hotel property in court | The Thaiger
PHOTO: MINOR International are trying to kick Marriott out of it's Mai Khao property - Booking.com

Marriott International, the American international hotel company, has failed in its bid to secure an injunction in a Thai court to stop a legal claim filed by the Minor International group.

Minor International (MINT) says that its subsidiary MI Squared Ltd had filed a legal claim in a Thai court against Marriott International and the Thai subsidiary Luxury Hotels & Resorts (Thailand) for 570,605,134 baht. The claim is linked to the JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa in Mai Khao, which is owned by MINT. In the statement, MINT accuses Marriott of “acting in bad faith” alleging “serious and repeated breaches of Thai law”, according to ttrweekly.com.

The complaint from MINT alleges that Marriott was openly competing with the JW Marriott Phuket through its operation of competing Marriott-branded hotels in Phuket. Claims are made that the Mai Khao hotel uses its facilities to promote Marriott’s other competing Marriott hotels. Another of the complaints accuses Marriott of forcing the JW Marriott Phuket to accept high volumes of low-margin business through the Marriott’s loyalty program.

According to the ttrweekly.com article, the legal dispute includes allegations that Marriott “misappropriated MINT’s confidential and proprietary information” to promote Marriott’s competing hotels and unlawfully benefit Marriott’s own interests at the expense of MINT. The JW Marriott Phuket remains under Marriott’s management for now but “the operating performance has been poor”.

MINT told shareholders total hotel revenue decreased from 920 million in 2013 to 876 million baht last year. Over the same period, gross operating profit fell from 409 million to 379 million baht.

(It should be noted that many of Phuket’s high-end hotels have suffered a similar revenue fall due to increased competition, competitive pressures pushing room rates down and, especially over the past 12 months, a shift in tourist demographics.)

Marriott International issued a statement to ttrweekly.com following a request for comment.

“Marriott International acknowledges that a subsidiary of Minor International has initiated legal action in Thailand against Marriott and one of its Thai subsidiaries. Marriott reiterates that such claim is meritless and should be heard in confidential arbitration.

Our Thai subsidiary recently secured an interim injunction in arbitral proceedings restraining MINT’s subsidiary from pursuing the action in Thailand. We subsequently agreed with MINT to suspend the Thai proceedings pending the final outcome of our ongoing arbitration. As we intend to comply with our contractual confidentiality obligations, we are unable to provide more information at this time.

We consider JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa has performed well compared to the market. The dispute will have no impact on operations at the hotel, which continues to offer guests with world-class service and accommodations, a beachfront location and eleven culinary options.”

SOURCE: ttrweekly.com

Minor International battles Marriott over popular Phuket hotel property in court | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: marriott.com

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Bangkok

Bangkok’s vacant land owners growing fruit and vegetables to evade vacant-land tax

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Bangkok’s vacant land owners growing fruit and vegetables to evade vacant-land tax | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Tax evasion can have a useful side-effect - The Thaiger

A loophole in land tax around Bangkok (actually everywhere in Thailand) is having an unexpected side effect, mostly good. Many vacant property owners in Bangkok are growing fruit and vegetables to escape the newly launched tax on their undeveloped land.

For example, Banana trees are now growing on an expensive piece of land near Naradhiwat-Rajanagarindra Road. To avoid the new Land and Building Tax Act’s tax on vacant land, some landowners had decided to grow banana or lime trees on their land to pay the lower tax rate for agricultural use of the land.

The revised land and building tax act 2019 came into effect on January 1. Owners of vacant land pay a higher tax rate than those who used their land for agricultural, residential or commercial purposes. The act states that the owners of agricultural land with an appraised value up to 75 million baht must pay a tax at 0.01% of the value. From 75-100 million baht valuation, the rate is 0.03%. 100-500 million baht value the rate is 0.05%, etc… 1 billion baht-plus value, the rate it is 0.1%.

In the case of undeveloped land, the owners must pay rates from 3-6 times higher. So owners who are hanging onto their land at expensive locations are now growing grow fruit trees such as lime, banana or papaya to avoid payment of tax on vacant land.

Even along Ratchadaphisek, Rama IX and Ekamai roads in Bangkok, prime land locations, we’re now seeing mini plantations of banana, mango, lime and other fruit trees.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Bangkok

Street food returns to the streets of Bangkok in four districts

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Street food returns to the streets of Bangkok in four districts | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Street vendors will soon return to the streets of Bangkok, legally - YouTube

Street vendors are not to be more rigorously controlled in relation to their location and conduct. Bangkok authorities are now set to apply its new registrations to hundreds of street side food vendors in four districts of the capital.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has agreed to the setup of 191 stalls. The registration process will be complete by February and before sales start in March.

Bangkok’s Governor Assawin Khwanmuang announced that five areas in four districts of Bangkok have been designated as vendor zones…

• Soi Bang Khunthian 69 in Bang Khunthian district (45 stalls)

• Saleeratthawipak Road in Phaya Thai District (36 stalls)

• the area opposite Pata department store in Bang Phlat district (66 stalls)

• an area close to Central Plaza Pinklao (20 stalls)

• and an area near Tesco Lotus Pinklao in Bangkok Noi district (24 stalls)

The BMA says they are completing the drafting of regulations and criteria by next Monday and will announce the official registration date within 15 days. To be eligible for registration vendors will need to apply as a low-income earner and qualify for a state welfare card. The BMA will prepare the sites for sales to begin on March 5, according to The Nation.

Registered vendors will be prohibited from selling or renting their stalls, they must leave a 2 metre-wide passage for pedestrians and disabled people beside the stalls, the stall area will be 1 metre deep, 2 metres wide and .5 metre away from the road, and vendors will be prohibited from placing items beyond the allowed space.

SOURCE: The Nation

 

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