Thailand has been long known for its car industry and has been a supplier to major car manufacturers for a long time. While other countries in the region try to establish their own car brands, Thailand has opted for the strategy to turn away from the internal combustion engine and promote a transformation of the local car industry towards a more innovative and clean technology. Just recently, a National Committee for Electric Vehicles was established, mandated to draw up a comprehensive policy framework for EV promotion and the biggest, state-owned bus operator in Bangkok, BMTA, is mulling to go electric for the scheduled bus fleet renewal. Overall 2511 buses are to be replaced, 500 thereof in 2021.
As a first step to support the Thai Government in its efforts to go electric in public transport, TRANSfer, jointly with the Electric Vehicle Association of Thailand (EVAT), organized a half-day seminar on electric buses on 25 September 2020. The session shared best practices and experiences from China and Europe, exchanged on plans and projects by public and private sector actors in Thailand and discussed how to speed up electrification of bus fleets in Thailand.
While international experts from UITP, Solaris and Shenzen Bus Company shared experiences with electrifying bus fleets in other parts of the world, local stakeholders shared the results of an Electric Bus Pilot in Bangkok and a pre-feasibility study for various Thai cities to electrify public transport fleets.
The studies showed that, while local industry has geared up to shift production to electric, and electrification on certain routes can be achieved at cost-parity, the biggest barrier for the transformation are a lack of Government subsidies for charging infrastructure and a need for affordable electricity prices, which currently become higher per unit as consumption levels rise. Also, buses in Bangkok will need a special configuration with larger batteries, in order to be able to operate with high air conditioning needs on congested roads. The local researchers further found, that bus fares would need to be raised from 8THB to 32 THB in order to operate without a loss. While this is a significant increase, the researchers argued that the new price will still be affordable by low income commuters, reliant on bus travel.
Find more information online: http://www.evat.or.th/
The agenda of the conference can be found here:
Carolin Capone, Bangkok