Chinese electric vehicle giant BYD plans to build passenger car factory in Thailand

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Chinese electric car company BYD has been expanding rapidly overseas, including in recent months announcing plans to enter the Thai and Japanese passenger car markets. Pictured is a test drive of BYD’s Atto 3 electric SUV in Yokohama, Japan in August 2022.

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BEIJING — Chinese electric car and battery giant BYD plans to open its first fully-invested passenger car factory outside of China — in Thailand.

BYD on Thursday signed a contract to buy land and build a new-energy passenger car factory in an industrial park run by local giant WHA Group, according to news releases. The companies did not disclose an investment amount. The new energy includes pure battery and hybrid energy.

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The news comes as BYD is rapidly expanding into other countries. Notably, the company plans to enter the passenger car market in Japan – home to auto giant Toyota – by selling three electric car models to local customers next year.

BYD said it announced its official entry into the Thai passenger car market in early August.

The company said the new factory is expected to start operations in 2024, building cars for the local market and for export to countries such as those in Southeast Asia.

The cars will also be exported to Europe, the WHA said.

When the plant opens, annual production capacity will be around 150,000 vehicles, the two companies said. WHA noted that by 2030 electric vehicles are expected to account for 30% of total car production in Thailand, or 700,000 such cars per year.

Over the past year, BYD has made numerous announcements regarding electric passenger car sales in countries including Brazil, Australia, Singapore and Norway. Some mark the brand’s entry into these markets, although it’s unclear if BYD still sells a significant number of cars there.

BYD’s rapid growth

For years, much of BYD’s business, especially overseas, has focused on utility vehicles such as buses.

But in recent years, the company has quickly become an electric vehicle giant in China, the world’s biggest auto market.

BYD said it sold more than 487,000 fully battery-powered passenger cars in the first eight months of the year, more than triple the number sold during the same period last year.

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