A former Indonesian minister of tourism once called Thailand and Indonesia ‘sparring partners’. This can be applied not only to tourism but also other sectors, especially automotive manufacturing. The shift towards electric vehicles (EVs) has changed the competition between the two countries in this sector. Both countries have enthusiastically welcomed full-battery EVs more than other types like hybrids.
Several major automotive brands, including Toyota, Nissan and Honda, have operated manufacturing plants across Southeast Asia for several decades. But in the EV sector, new players are emerging from the South Korean Hyundai Group and the Chinese SAIC-GM Group. Both have invested in Indonesia, while Thailand has instead managed to attract EV manufacturing from Europe.