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Neighborhood electric vehicle market thrives on luxury resort island

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Neighborhood electric vehicle market thrives on luxury resort island | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: The numerous luxury resorts in Phuket has helped grow Southern Thailand’s golf cart and other neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV) market, which is now in a dead heat with the Central Region, Ekasit Kunanantakul, managing director of Global Electric Motorcars Asia Company, said in
an exclusive interview with the Phuket Gazette.

Global Electric Motorcars, now 12 years old, was among the first to sell golf carts to posh resorts and hotels, and has also seen sales of these vehicles increase in the Northeast since the end of last year.

“Chiang Mai and Mae Fah Luang universities have electric shuttle buses running in their campuses now. These are 14-seaters and have to work hard moving students from place to place… [the universities’] expenses have dropped by 50% just by not using petrol,” Mr Ekasit said.

However, while Global Electric Motorcars distributes various types of NEVs throughout the country, it only has two showroom-cum-service centers outside Bangkok. One of which is on Phuket’s Thepkrasattri Road and the other in Hua Hin.

Even so, the size of the market in the South has resulted in a plan to open another one on Koh Samui, but Phuket remains key.

“We have lots of clients in Phuket because there are so many hotels and resorts on the island. We want to have the service center there so that buyers are confident that their vehicles will be serviced punctually and that they will not have to dash to Bangkok to get this done,” Mr Ekasit explained.

Mr Ekasit mentioned that the lifespan of a NEV is more than 10 years, but the battery has to be changed every three years.

“But these batteries are not expensive, they are not like the lithium variety installed in fast, air-conditioned cars,” he said.

Very little fitting is done in Thailand to the electric golf carts, which the company imports from various countries including the United States, Europe, Japan, China and Taiwan.

It is not worthwhile assembling kits here, as cost-conscious buyers can always opt for the cheaper Chinese models on which zero tax applies, which is significantly less than the 40-50% that is added on to the price tag of those being imported from other countries.

“Nowadays, the quality doesn’t differ substantially, and we only have to select a good factory – there are a lot of factories in China, but only 10% are quality plants, so you do have to choose carefully.

Global Electric Motorcars is also pushing for the licensing of NEVs to run on main roads, as medium-speed ones are now allowed to do so in the United States.

“Thailand allows the licensing of higher-specification electric vehicles, but not those of our size,” Mr Ekasit explained.

“We have imported bigger electric cars, but not a large number of them because the market here is not very big, and the price is about 1 to 2 million baht – closer to 2 million baht.”

What is becoming increasingly popular, however, is electric brush cutters, which Global Electric Motorcars imports from Japan. Buyers have the choice between two-wheeled and four-wheeled vehicles. Prices range from 220,000 to 300,000 baht.

“It depends on the region. In the Northeast and national parks like Khao Yai, brush cutters sell well, but in Phuket, it’s golf carts,” Mr Ekasit said.

— Nina Suebsukcharoen

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO | The Thaiger

We look at the recent changes made by the Australian and Indian governments to except control over the world’s biggest social media platforms. India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social. There is now an open battle between the rise of social media platforms and the governments and ‘old’ media that have been able to maintain a certain level of control over the ‘message’ for the last century. Who will win?

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told. The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

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The social media giants in battle with ‘old’ media and world governments | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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The social media giants in battle with ‘old’ media and world governments | VIDEO | The Thaiger

“The rules signal greater willingness by countries around the world to rein in big tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter that the governments fear have become too powerful with little accountability.”

India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social.

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The companies are also being made to publish a compliance report each month with details about how many complaints they’ve received and the action they took.

They’ll also be required to remove ‘some’ types of content including “full or partial nudity,” any “sexual act” or “impersonations including morphed images”

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told.

The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

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Business

Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO | The Thaiger

When the airlines, in particular, were asking the government to put their hands in their pockets for some relief funding in August last year, it was genuinely thought that international tourists would be coming back for the high season in December and January. At the very least local tourists and expats would head back to the skies over the traditional holiday break. And surely the Chinese would be back for Chinese New Year?

As we know now, none of that happened. A resurge in cases started just south of Bangkok on December 20 last year, just before Christmas, kicking off another round of restrictions, pretty much killing off any possibility of a high season ‘bump’ for the tourist industry. Airlines slashed flights from their schedule, and hotels, which had dusted off their reception desks for the surge of tourists, shut their doors again.

Domestically, the hotel business saw 6 million room nights in the government’s latest stimulus campaign fully redeemed. But the air ticket quota of 2 million seats still has over 1.3 million seats unused. Local tourists mostly skipped flights and opted for destinations within driving distance of their homes.

As for international tourism… well that still seems months or years away, even now.

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