Tesla launches in Thailand, heats up EV rivalry

STORY: Tesla just launched in its latest market - Thailand.

That marks its first move into a nation long dominated by Japanese brands.

On Wednesday (December 7) the EV pioneer launched two of its models there, with prices from about $48,000.

It plans to sell its cars there via online channels, with deliveries to start next year.

Tesla didn’t give any details on its sales targets.

Thailand is a production hub for firms including Toyota and Honda.

It produces up to 2 million vehicles annually, with around a half exported.

But Tesla’s toughest competition for sales may come not come from the Japanese brands.

Chinese firms including BYD and Great Wall Motors have set up showrooms in the country in recent years.

They offer EVs starting at less than half the price of the cheapest Tesla.

For now, fuel-based vehicles still dominate the Thai market, but electric sales are rising fast.

At Wednesday’s launch event in a Bangkok mall some locals sounded convinced.

If I ever buy a new car it will be electric says this man.

Thailand’s government will like the sound of that.

By 2030, it wants at least 30% of vehicles produced there to be electric.

State-owned energy firm PTT Group this year announced a $1 billion deal with Taiwan’s Foxconn to produce EVs in the country.