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Introduction To Thailand Electric Vehicle Market By Sabai Bike

We wondered about the EV scene in Thailand. CEO Anastasia from Sabai bikes answered our questions and gave us an excellent explanation and her own opinions. The article that follows was fully written by Anastasia.

New Asian Tiger

Thailand’s EV market is huge, if you dare to enter it. Those who study the subject know that Thai juautomotive is very strong globally. All major car makers are represented here with their assembly lines, and Thai-made vehicles have had consistent standards for years. Nobody doubts about Honda, Yamaha or Suzuki moto parts quality. HD, Ducati, Triumph also assemble here. Technologically Thailand is objected to the Japan’s paternalism, which is not the worst. And, considering that Thailand Government claims to get leadership in assembling electric vehicles in ASEAN, we expect a lot of benefits for our investors in the next couple of years.

Local Board of Investments already granted 8 years tax holidays for Nissan with its BEV Leaf. But this applies not to whales only. If you produce batteries, chargers, dc/dc converters, BMS or controllers, and ready to teach locals, you can be granted too.

Two wheels, four souls

Motorbike is like another family member for Thais. There are no footpaths in the country. Locals don’t walk, they ride. To their work, to buy food, to talk to friends on the road. Very often they ride together – three, four, five people on the same old Honda click equipped with bald tires and plastic bags with rice and soup.

Tourists, coming throughout the year in search of sexual and emotional adventures, rent motorbikes for commitment too. So, 68 mln locals plus 35 mln foreigners annually are the target.

The great wall

Import in Thailand is very strict. The whole economy directly depends on the interests of the lobby. Seems like the main interest of corporations like Honda is to prevent cheap Chinese electric bikes from entering the market. Currently, all completely built-up electric cars in Thailand are subject to the 80% import duty, and electric bicycles/motorcycles – 60%. The same percentage is set for e-conversion kits.
For parts it’s 40-60%, for battery cells 30%, and you will also need a lot of certificates to assemble legally.

This makes any dealership inside of the country very complicated. In fact, no imported ebikes were ever sold here except a few ones delivered by enthusiasts like us. Zero closed their dealership, and the rest of the builders haven’t even tried to break through.

Anastasia riding one of her Sabai -Thailand assembled bikes

Locals aren’t yet good in service. There is no charging infrastructure. Drivers hesitate about the range, maintenance, tropical floods. Government is hesitating as well. The challenge to change their mindset is ambitious and inspirational. We believe EV promoting strategy should be bottom up.

Sabai in Thai means to feel happy and easy. Our ebike business wasn’t like this at the beginning.

After testing several imported high-quality ebikes in 2015, we realized that weather and relief conditions raise lots of tech challenges for us, the list of requirements includes:

-Ebikes in South-East Asia should be able to ride under several extreme weather conditions: monsoon, extremely hot weather (37C and more), constantly high humidity.

-Ebikes should be capable to survive on city streets, trails and dusty country roads with puddles of mud, and more important – on prolonged high hills.
-Asian traffic is unpredictable and chaotic, bikes need to handle road accidents without causing extra damage because of battery ignition or frame fragility.
-Ebikes should be affordable, well-designed and fast enough to compete with traditional motorcycles and scooters.thailand electric bike

Our first general decision was to use LiFePO4 prismatic cells. During the last 3 years all Li-Ion batteries (with bad and good cells) lost their capacity 30-60% under high loads on Phuket hills. Only LiFePO4 modules that we built ourselves are pretty fine, and nobody’s battery will ever catch fire because of our design. Our batteries are a perfect example of long service life, short charging time, high depth of discharge, packing strength etc.

sabai ebike
Denzel Modified Ebikes by Sabai Bike

We made our own portable fast charger which can be used from any electrical outlet. Charging time for my carbon bikes with 1kw battery is 30 min, so we don’t care much about the range – available sockets are everywhere.

custom sabai bike

We found the way to modify BMS and controllers to get higher current and prevent overheating.

Now we have a complete understanding and our builds work perfectly.custom sabai bike denzel

Considering the number of reliable scooter frames in the country (2.5 million produces every year), I’m going to focus on scooters conversion into electric. Now we use DENZEL carbon frames to promote ebikes in the country, because of their nice design and quality (no corrosion in humidity is important). We have Supersoco, Teleportator and Enduro ebike frames too (all insides made by us).

My ambition is to open an assembly plant to work with frame/bike makers from all over the world, to provide manufacturing, assembling and export services. Costs of labor, land and materials in Thailand are very reasonable, so it’s just a question of time.


SABIKE custom electric bikes Thailand website

Sabai Bikes Instagram

Sabai Bikes Facebook

Thank you Anastasia!

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