BANGKOK, July 20 (Reuters) – Chinese automakers dominated Southeast Asia’s fast-growing electric vehicle market, selling three out of every four EVs in the first quarter, research firm Counterpoint Research said on Thursday.

Thailand – the main regional auto manufacturing hub – is driving the transition, with the country accounting for almost 79% of all EVs sold in Southeast Asia in the first quarter, Counterpoint said.

Thailand has offered incentives to consumers and subsidies to automakers to build more EVs locally. That has attracted a wave of investments by Chinese carmakers in local manufacturing, including by Great Wall Motor (601633.SS) and BYD (002594.SZ).

By 2030, Thailand aims to convert around 30% of its annual production of 2.5 million vehicles into EVs.

In total, Chinese EV makers have committed to invest at least $1.44 billion in setting up production facilities in Thailand, where the auto industry has been dominated by Japanese companies for decades.

“Chinese auto groups are experiencing rapid growth and outpacing their competitors in the SEA (Southeast Asia) region, with their market share increasing from 38% a year ago to nearly 75%,” Counterpoint analyst Abhilash Gupta said.

Across the region, the share of EVs in total passenger vehicle sales rose to 3.8% in the first quarter, from 0.3% a year earlier, according to Counterpoint.

BYD’s Atto 3 was the best-selling EV car in the region, followed by the Neta V made by Hozon New Energy Automobile, which is working on local Thai production, and Tesla’s (TSLA.O) Model Y, it said.

With Chinese EV offerings expanding, Counterpoint said the share of EVs as a percent of total vehicle sales in Southeast Asia could reach 6% by the end of 2023.

Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia are the largest auto markets in Southeast Asia. Counterpoint included those markets plus Vietnam, Philippines, Singapore and Myanmar in its analysis of EV sales in the region.

Reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Emma Rumney

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Devjyot reports on Southeast Asia, with a focus on business stories and those involving the nexus of money and power. Previously, he was a politics and general news correspondent based in New Delhi, where he was part of Reuters teams that won India’s Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award and the South Asian Journalists Association Award. He is a graduate of Columbia University, King’s College London and Loyola College in India.

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