PTT shifts into high gear in the electric vehicle industry

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Auttapol expects bright prospects for EV-related businesses under the cooperation between PTT and its partners. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

National oil and gas conglomerate PTT Plc wants to revamp its corporate image as a key manufacturer in the growing electric vehicle (EV) industry.

Chairman and CEO Auttapol Rerkpiboon, along with subsidiaries under PTT, are pushing forward electric vehicle projects, especially those in cooperation with technology companies, as Thailand is determined to become a regional center for vehicle production electrical.

The government has set deadlines for Thailand to produce significant numbers of electric vehicles and launched electric vehicle incentive packages to boost demand and supply for vehicles.

PTT has its own plans to assemble EVs, produce batteries, expand EV charging facilities and provide EV rental services, all of which are progressing well, according to Auttapol.

VE PRODUCTION

The company will begin its electric vehicle manufacturing by initially providing electric vehicle assembly service for other companies, he said.

Arun Plus Co, wholly owned by PTT, co-founded Horizon Plus to oversee an electric vehicle assembly business.

Arun Plus has made a 51% investment in Horizon Plus, a joint venture, with a 49% investment by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, a Taiwan-based multinational electronics manufacturer.

Hon Hai Precision Industry, known worldwide as Foxconn, wants to develop an electric vehicle business and has chosen Southeast Asia as its target market.

PTT and Foxconn are jointly developing a US$1-2 billion electric vehicle production facility in the Eastern Economic Corridor.

With the state’s continued promotion of the domestic electric vehicle industry, Auttapol said he expects many global electric vehicle makers to invest more in Thailand. PTT will help them in the production of electric vehicles initially, rather than spending huge sums to set up a full-fledged facility to manufacture electric vehicles under a new brand, he said.

Global manufacturers can opt for this offer because the domestic market for electric vehicles will be small at first, Auttapol said.

“Foxconn is passionate about developing EV platform technology,” he said.

“Global automotive brands can design the cars and hire us to assemble them. Electric vehicles require less complicated assembly techniques.”

Under the PTT-Foxconn cooperation, a car assembly facility is expected to be located on a 350 rai land.

Production of electric vehicles is expected to start in 2024 with a capacity of 50,000 units per year. This number is expected to reach 150,000 per year by 2030.

PTT is aware that some motorists may be reluctant to adopt new automotive technology, so an EV rental service may be a solution for this group of people.

Arun Plus operates an electric vehicle rental service, offering different brands to drivers who want to try new car technology but are wary given its high prices and limited availability of charging infrastructure.

BATTERY ACTIVITY

PTT develops its battery business by partnering with companies specializing in battery manufacturing, as well as conducting R&D activities to improve battery technology.

Arun Plus has formed a joint venture with PTT’s power generation arm, Global Power Synergy Plc (GPSC), to produce electric vehicle batteries using technology from Boston, USA-based 24M Technologies Inc. -United.

PTT announced last year that it would increase its battery production capacity to gigawatt-hour levels after opening a plant in Rayong, the first semi-solid battery production plant in Southeast Asia. The facility is operated by GPSC.

The 1.1 billion baht plant, located in Map Ta Phut, currently has a capacity of 30 megawatt hours.

The plant is to produce batteries called “G Cells” to power electric vehicles such as tuk-tuks, buses and motorcycles used for cargo delivery, according to GPSC.

This capacity will allow the firm to supply batteries to 3,000 tuk-tuks or 150 buses, said Mr. Auttapol.

With semi-solid technology, the batteries will be lighter, require less production costs and should be unlikely to explode, compared to solid batteries, he said.

Thailand is the third country with a semi-solid battery production plant in Asia after China and Japan.

GPSC is licensed from 24M Technologies Inc, the owner of the energy storage systems technology. The semi-solid battery was developed by the American firm.

Arun Plus has also partnered with Chinese company Contemporary Amperex Technology Co to develop batteries based on cell-to-pack technology, which can simplify the assembly process and save on material cost.

PTT is developing high-performance lithium-ion battery technology at Wang Chan’s Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology in Rayong, which was established by the company.

CHARGING FACILITIES

Mr. Auttapol believes that it is crucial to develop more electric vehicle charging facilities to fuel the growth of the domestic electric vehicle industry.

In March last year, the National EV Policy Committee announced that it wanted electric vehicles to make up 50% of locally produced vehicles by 2030, as part of an ambitious plan to make Thailand a regional center for the production of electric vehicles.

In February this year, the cabinet decided to approve an incentive package including tax cuts and subsidies to promote the consumption of electric vehicles between 2022 and 2023.

These incentives and subsequent measures are expected to increase the number of electric vehicles on the road.

This prompted PTT, together with car and EV charger manufacturers, to invest in the development and expansion of EV charging infrastructure.

PTT Oil and Retail Business (OR), a subsidiary of PTT, earlier announced plans to increase the number of electric vehicle charging points to 450 from 107 by the end of this year. OR aims to increase the number to 7,000 by 2030.

“We are committed to continuing to grow our EV business,” Auttapol said, confident the company’s e-mobility business will grow in tandem with other non-oil ventures driven by its life sciences arm. life, Innobic (Asia), in medical equipment, medicine and plant food industries.

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