Thailand’s automotive industry is continuing to grow, this week announcing it is investing in Chinese carmaker Chery to produce electric vehicles in the nation – and Australia could be a benefactor of the relationship.

    Earlier this month, the Thailand Government’s Board of Investment (BOI) approved an undisclosed investment in Chery to build an EV factory in the Rayong province – approximately 2.5 hours south-east of Bangkok – in the coming years.

    The Bangkok Post reports Chery will use the factory to build EVs and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) for its Omoda and Jaecoo sub-brands, with plans to export the vehicles to countries in the ASEAN, Oceania, and Middle East markets.

    Chery, which is China’s third-largest carmaker, sold more than 1.8 million vehicles in its home market and abroad last year, which included 5890 sales in Australia.

    The brand relaunched locally in mid-2023 with the Omoda 5 and later the Tiggo 7 Pro, while the larger Tiggo 8 Pro Max is due to arrive in showrooms imminently. 

    Chery has also announced plans to bring Jaecoo to Australia this year, initially with the Toyota RAV4-sized and petrol-powered J7 SUV.

    According to the Bangkok Post, Chery plans to produce the Omoda 5 EV (soon to be badged as the Omoda E5 here) and Jaecoo J7 PHEV at the factory, aiming to build 50,000 annually throughout the first phase of production before ramping up to 80,000 vehicles in 2028.

    While no specific mention of Australia was made, there’s an outside chance Chery’s future EVs for our market could come from Thailand.

    In 2023, Thailand was the second-largest source of production for new cars sold in Australia, with the 264,253 Thai-built cars delivered placing it second only to automotive powerhouse Japan, which contributed 345,071 to the total of 1,216,780 new vehicle sales.

    However, a majority of vehicles built in Thailand for Australia are utes and their related body-on-frame SUV counterparts, such as the Ford Ranger/Everest, Toyota HiLux and Isuzu D-Max/MU-X.

    Meanwhile, China overtook South Korea for third place in Australia’s new-car sales charts for the first time, with the 193,433 cars imported from the nation representing a massive 57.5 per cent increase on the year prior.

    Chery isn’t the first Chinese carmaker to start operations in Thailand, with BYD, GWM and Changan all setting up shop there in recent years – however all vehicles made by these brands and sold in Australia are from China.

    MORE: ‘Nothing off the table’ when it comes to more Chery brands in Australia

    Jordan Mulach

    Born and raised in Canberra, Jordan has worked as a full-time automotive journalist since 2021, being one of the most-published automotive news writers in Australia before joining CarExpert in 2024.

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