China's Hozon New Energy Automobile has initiated vehicle assembly in Thailand, marking its inaugural overseas factory as part of an intensified strategy to access the Southeast Asian market. The Shanghai-based automaker, also known as Neta Auto, successfully produced the first right-hand-drive version of its Neta V-II, an electric compact SUV, ahead of schedule at its Bangkok facility. Zhang Yong, the co-founder and CEO of Hozon, highlighted this achievement, emphasizing Neta's integration into Thailand's new-energy vehicle industry chain and the broader ASEAN region.
The company's commitment extends to establishing a comprehensive industry chain encompassing research and development, manufacturing, sales, and after-sales service. Starting its construction in March, the Bangkok assembly facility, developed in collaboration with Bangchan General Assembly, boasts an annual capacity of 20,000 units. The Neta V-II represents Hozon's inaugural right-hand-drive model specifically tailored for markets beyond mainland China, notably Southeast Asia.
Neta, derived from the name Nezha in Chinese mythology, caters to the budget EV segment in China, appealing to middle- and low-income drivers preferring electric vehicles over petrol-driven cars. Having commenced exports to Thailand in August 2022, Hozon reported delivering over 12,000 units to the Southeast Asian nation. As of the first ten months of the current year, Neta vehicles secured a 20% share in Thailand's pure-electric car segment.
Hozon aims to extend its global sales network to 50 countries, establishing 500 overseas sales and service outlets. The company also signed a preliminary agreement with PT Handal Indonesia Motor in July to construct an assembly plant in Indonesia, projected to commence operations by the second quarter of 2024.
This move by Hozon aligns with the trend among Chinese EV manufacturers seeking opportunities abroad due to pricing advantages in Southeast Asia and the desire to tap into new markets amidst intense competition domestically. Companies like Changan Automobile and BYD have also announced plans to establish electric-car plants in Thailand and Indonesia, respectively, aiming to capitalize on burgeoning markets while addressing concerns of overcapacity in China's fiercely competitive electric vehicle landscape.