EV sales plummet as the Thai market questions the hype. April sees an 18.4% drop, worsening from March 2024. Popular EV brands struggle despite generous Thai government subsidies. The global trend is moving towards EV decline. Is the dream over? It is still too early to say but the real market is presently giving the EV car a big thumbs down.

Figures just released for EV sales in April 2024 are damning. They show a continued decline since the January 2024 peak, with sales further down in March. In total, only 4,088 EV cars were sold in Thailand, just 10.75% of the market. Even the popular ORA Good Cat car, made in Thailand, only managed to sell 169 units in April despite a government subsidy of up to ฿100,000. These sales declines align with falling trends worldwide, with the EV car share decreasing in the United States and sales down 9% in the first quarter in Europe.

A charging station for an EV car in a central Bangkok shopping centre. Sales of EV cars boomed in Thailand in 2023, rising by 684.4%. The trend extended into January 2024, but in February 2024, sales cratered 73.4%. They improved marginally during the Bangkok Motor Show but fell again in April by 18.4%.

There is further bad news for the burgeoning EV car industry in Thailand. As previously reported, sales of EV vehicles dropped significantly in February and March 2024.

Indeed, with only 8,636 cars sold, the combined figure for the two months was only 51.85% of the total sales for January 2024, which amounted to 13,653 vehicles.

Downturn from February 2024 after astounding success in 2023 which extended into January 2024. In February EV sales dropped 73.4% from the previous month

Certainly, last year was a huge success for the industry, with a total of 76,314 EV cars sold, marking a stunning 684.4% increase over 2022 figures.

The figures are based on data provided by the automotive trade in Thailand. These tally with government data released up until the recent downturn. The figures, as with recent government data, do not include hybrids.

In January, the healthy sales figure of 13,653 units seemed to mark another milestone performance for EV cars, coinciding with the opening of the Great Wall Motor Company’s Rayong production plant. The Chinese manufacturer produced the popular ORA Good Cat, the cheapest EV car on sale in Australia.

Sales of EV cars fell in Thailand in February and March 2024 challenging the kingdom’s vision as a green hub
Jury still out on EV vehicles but with its back against the wall, Thailand is all in for the ride at high torque

However, things turned drastically sour in February, with sales plummeting to 3,635 units. This marked a sharp 72.7% drop from the 2023 figures and a 73.4% drop from the previous month.

Following this, the March sales figure, coinciding with the international motor show in Bangkok, amounted to 5,001 registrations. 

Realistic voices at the event began to warn that all may not be well with the optimistic outlook. Despite this, hopes blossomed with new product launches such as exciting BYD models made in China.

Bestselling EV car in April 2024 was launched at the Motor Show in Bangkok in March 2024. It is the Chinese-made BYD Deepal S07 which sold only 754 units

Indeed, one of the cars introduced at the show was the BYD Deepal S07, which managed to be the best-selling EV car for April 2024.

However, sales for the month only amounted to 754 cars. This is according to sales data just released.

Notwithstanding this, sales of EV cars for April were disappointingly low, with only 4,088 cars sold. This accounted for only 10.75% of the number of cars sold in Thailand for the month.

Indeed, the scale of the disaster can be seen from the fact that only 169 ORA Good Cat electric cars were sold.

The news is abysmal for Thai economic policy coordinators. Officially, the kingdom is expecting to sell 175,000 EV cars in 2024.

So far, in the opening four months, the figure is 26,377. Certainly, if the trend continues, sales of EV cars might be even lower than last year.

Sales of EV cars dropped again from March to April 2024 by 18.4%. At this rate, sales may end below the breakthrough level seen in 2023 for the full year

The worrying feature about the figure is that April saw an 18.4% drop from March.

Despite the disappointing figures, it would be premature to say the EV dream is over. Certainly, it is flickering. Notwithstanding this, the April sales figure in Thailand is disturbing.

Worldwide sales of EV cars were up 12% in March 2024. However, in Europe, they were down 9% for the first quarter.

The position is that the general public, by and large, is rejecting them. Where state subsidies are available, there appears to be an initial take-up among green-thinking drivers, which then tapers out.

In the United Kingdom, sales of EVs were up in the first quarter, driven not by the general public but by corporate purchases.

In short, companies are gaining green PR mileage by using EV fleets and service vehicles.

Sales of petrol cars were up 7.5% in the United Kingdom, so were EV cars with a market share of 16.9%. However, only one in six buyers was a normal driver

Certainly in the United Kingdom, sales of diesel cars for the first quarter were down by 9.8%. Conversely, sales of petrol cars were up by 7.5% compared to the previous year. In addition, 2024 has seen a weaker market.

In the UK, at the end of April, the EV market share was 16.9%, with registrations of electric cars up by 10.7%. However, only one in six EVs bought in April 2024 was for regular drivers.

Market share for EVs in the United States is falling. In the first three months of 2024, it was 7.3%, lower than the last quarter of 2023.

In Europe, while France saw a 10.9% rise in March 2024 for EV sales and Belgium rose by 23.8%, Germany, already a leader with state support, saw EV sales nosedive by 28.9%.

This came after subsidies were cancelled by the cash-trapped German government of Olav Sholz. 

EV car sales hype and planning smacks of command and control economics like that seen in Communist countries

Undoubtedly, this situation reflects governments and world bodies attempting command and control type economics. This is the sort of planning seen in Communist China and before this, in Communist Russia.

In short, it fails to respect the natural market driven by human preferences and demand. It looks like it is failing.

In effect, the perceived market for EV cars resulted from political and corporate hype linked to Climate Change policies.

It is not a genuine consumer market.

From viral media reports to testimonials from around the world, particularly from early users of EVs, the verdict appears to be damning.

Range anxiety, faulty batteries, and the generally consumable nature of the product are mentioned. The new EVs are compared to smartphones by many drivers. This is not complimentary.

Horror stories about EV cars from ordinary people

At the same time, there are visible horror stories. A UK EV motorist, the owner of a Porsche Taycan EV warns users not to buy into the hype. He owes £67,000 on his car and cannot find a second-hand buyer. The firm he bought it from refuses to make him an offer.

After that, there is the story of a woman who drives off from the showroom in her first EV, only to be involved in a car smash not far down the road.

When the car is returned to the dealership, she is told the battery is irreparably damaged. A new battery will cost more than the car itself.

Nevertheless, it is too early to tell, but one thing is clear.

Certainly in Thailand since February, the market for EV cars has cratered with a massive slump in sales over a three-month period. May 2024 sales awaited

The real market for EV cars is declining. This can be seen from the disastrous figures seen in Thailand from the end of January to the end of April 2024.

It comes despite the Thai government’s EV 3.5 incentive, which works out at a ฿100,000 subsidy per vehicle.

Thailand’s government has invested heavily in the EV vision, even at the expense of its traditional automotive sector.

The jury is still out, but the odds of the kingdom’s investment yielding a return are lengthening. Certainly, it might be time for the powers that be to begin hedging their bets.

Undoubtedly, they will be awaiting May’s sales with trepidation. At the same time, as in the United Kingdom, everything will be done to speed up corporate or government fleet orders. 

Searching questions may have to be asked

In the meantime, perhaps the government might look at the prospects for its traditional automotive industry. 

The mainstay of the country’s manufacturing and export economy, it was built up in the 1960s in partnership with American and Japanese firms.

In effect, it is now subsidising its replacement with an artificial and yet unproven industry promoted by China.

If the current trend is confirmed, it must lead to searching questions.

Undoubtedly, efforts to encourage large corporations to buy into the rhetoric will be made. Certainly, in the meantime,  it would appear, the ordinary members of the public have tuned out.

Join the Thai News forum, follow Thai Examiner on Facebook here
Receive all our stories as they come out on Telegram here
Follow Thai Examiner here

Further reading:

Sales of EV cars fell in Thailand in February and March 2024 challenging the kingdom’s vision as a green hub

Jury still out on EV vehicles but with its back against the wall, Thailand is all in for the ride at high torque

Prime Minister Srettha in Japan talking up EV investments in Thailand’s vital automotive industry

Land Bridge to PM Srettha’s economic policy dreams on the agenda with a 2029 launch date

Thailand planning an infrastructural overhaul aimed at improving regional transport links to boost the economy

Transport ministry looks at launching Thailand’s own shipping line to support economic growth

RCEP deal agreed as India opts out – busy Bangkok ASEAN summit concludes on a low-key