China’s SAIC Motor said it planned to invest THB2.5bn (US$75m) to build an electric vehicle (EV) battery plant in Thailand ahead of local EV production, according to local reports citing a company executive.

Zhang Haibo, president of the company’s local joint ventures SAIC Motor-CP and MG Sales (Thailand), said his company planned to launch local EV production in 2023 for sale locally and for export, adding “the EV industry is growing fast as new Chinese automakers launch more EVs to meet global demand”.

SAIC Motor already has a factory in Thailand’s Chonburi province that makes batteries for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Zhang said: “We want to expand production capacity to produce BEV batteries to support exports.”

The automaker was also conducting a feasibility study for a battery recycling facility, as the number of used batteries continues to rise.

MG Sales (Thailand) sold 32,000 vehicles last year and has targeted 50,000 deliveries for 2022.

Thailand’s National EV Policy Committee last March set a target for EVs to account for 50% of total vehicle production in the country by 2030, as part of a plan to make Thailand a regional EV production hub.