Plug in Vehicles in Thailand



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November 27, 2022 Ė Plug-in Vehicles in Thailand - My wife and I just blew our entire carbon budget for a year on a bucket list trip to Thailand. The trip was a wonderful experience and while seeing the sites and experiencing the culture there I got a chance to see how they were progressing in the way of plug-in vehicles.

My first surprise was that Thailand has a large and thriving automobile manufacturing industry. Currently more than 2-million cars per year are produced there, thatís more than is produced in the UK for example. Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, MG, Mercedes-Benz, Isuzu, Mitsubishi and BMW all have plants there. Ford manufactures the Ranger pickup and the Everest SUV there. GM also had a plant there but recently sold it to Chinese company Great Wall Motors. BYD is also planning to open a manufacturing facility in Thailand soon.

On my first day in Thailand, we went to lunch at a small restaurant in a shopping center. I was quite surprised to see that it had an electric vehicle charging station and there were two EVs parked in the two charging spots, a Tesla Model 3 and an MG Electric SUV. Later the MGM finished charging and a cute white subcompact parked in its place. The Tesla soon left and the other car appeared to be having problems using the charger and left without plugging in. I checked out the charge and it had three charging cords, CCS 2, ChaDemo, and one labeled AC.

I found out in my travels around Thailand over the next four weeks that EV chargers were quite rare. I did come across one more fast charge and a third one that was still under construction. One of the Malls we visited in Bangkok had 4 level 2 chargers.

It appeared to me that Thailandís adoption of plug-in cars is probably about where we were here in the USA in 2012. I did see about 8 Tesla vehicles mostly model 3 and model Y with one model S, The little subcompact I had seen at the charging station turned out to be an ORA Good Cat and this was the most common EV that I saw. ORA is the electric brand produced by Great Wall Motors. I saw at least one ORA Good Cat just about every day I was in Thailand even on the days I was out of Bangkok.

Other plug-in vehicles were harder to spot. The MGM has EV, PHEV and Gas versions that are very similar so it is difficult to tell which is which as you are travelling along. I also find it difficult, even here in LA, to identify many plug-in hybrids. I did see a few in Thailand from Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and BMW but, while I saw few Priuses, I didnít see a Prius Plug-in or Prime.

I did see a lot of conventional hybrids such as the Toyota Carola Cross HEV and the Haval HEV from Great Wall Motors. There were also a lot of hybrid minivans such as the Toyota Estima and Alphard.

Thailand is well in advance of the US in the use of biofuels. Thatís logical as Thailand is a major producer of sugar cane. Almost all gas stations had a variety of fuels available including various grades of ethanol-based fuels from E20 to E95. It also appears that most diesel vehicles run on B7 diesel fuel which is a blend of conventional diesel and up to 7% biodiesel.

Thailand also has a huge potential for solar power. Because it is a very hot country many parking lots are covered with car ports. This helps keep the cars cool which helps in fuel economy by reducing AC usage. Changing these carports to solar cells would have a potential to product large amounts of electricity.

We did have an opportunity to travel on public transport in Bangkok by taking a ride on the Skytrain. The Skytrain is an elevated light railway system that has two lines running into downtown. We were expecting usage to be light on a weekend but by the time we got to the central station in downtown the train was packed.

We didnít attempt to ride the bus system but I did notice at least one bus that had ďElectric busĒ written on the side.

Traffic in the big cities is congested and Bangkok traffic reminded me very much of LA. The major difference, other than they drive on the left in Thailand, is the number of motorbikes we saw on the road. Motorbikes are a quick way to get around town when traffic is heavy and so there are a lot of them. They even have motorbikes that act as taxis. In our time in Thailand, we saw thousands of motorbikes but I didnít see a single electric motorcycle or full-sized scooter. I did see a few electric bikes and some stand-up scooters but not many.

Thailand was a pleasure to visit. I found the people there to be friendly and helpful. It was interesting to see that while traffic is on a par with LA, accidents appear to be few and far between. I attribute this to drivers being more courteous than I find here. They appear to be more willing to let people in and donít get as angry with other drivers. I rarely heard a horn being sounded and only saw two accidents during four weeks of travelling there. I saw that many accidents on the way home from the airport here in LA.

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