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Thailand: MEA leads charge of the electric car brigade

Power authority steps up campaign to convince people of the future of motoring

Published: 25/08/2012 at 03:20 AMNewspaper section: News
The Metropolitan Electricity Authority has decided to demonstrate through practical measures rather than just tell people about how electric vehicles are the future of transportation.

Voravoot Pornvoranunt, Metropolitan Electricity Authority deputy governor for technology and planning, left, and research and development department director Sukit Kiatboonsiri pose with a Mitsubishi hatchback electric car parked near a charging station at the MEA headquarters in Bangkok. PHOTOS BY PATIPAT JANTHONG

Aimed at convincing motorists that electric cars are the smarter choice, the MEA is piloting a project to show how efficient and practical the use of clean energy in vehicles is in daily life.

As part of this effort, the MEA has recently opened an electric vehicle charging station at its headquarters on Phloenchit Road to showcase the technology of recharging the batteries that power electric cars.

Normally, it takes six to eight hours to completely recharge an electric car using the standard household 230 volts of electricity. But at the charging station, it usually takes only half an hour at the higher rate of 400 volts.

“The batteries are installed inside a car with a convenient charger that allows the user to recharge a car as easily as refuelling,” said Voravoot Pornvoranunt, MEA deputy governor for Technology and Planning.

As for recharging at home, electric car owners need an additional device to connect the vehicle to a household electric socket, which costs more money.

Whether it is charged at home or at the charging station, an electric car normally has enough energy to travel up to 150 kilometres, Mr Voravoot said.

The vehicles consume energy only for running the air conditioner when stuck in traffic, whereas gas- or fuel-powered cars keep their engines running all the time.

“Despite the higher price that includes 100% import tax, an electric vehicle costs about five to six times less [to charge] when it comes to energy consumption,” Mr Voravoot said.

An MEA staff member demonstrates how to charge the electric vehicle’s batteries.

Usually, a fuel-powered car costs about 3.5 baht per kilometre while an electric car only costs between 60 and 70 satang per km, he said. As for cars that run on natural gas, although it now costs about 1 baht per kilometre, the catch is that the lower price of this type of energy is subsidised by taxpayers.

Last year, the MEA launched a feasibility study of electric vehicle use in cooperation with Mitsubishi Motors (Thailand) which provided one Mitsubishi i-MiEV, a five-door hatchback launched about two-and-a-half years ago.

In the nine-month study from Sept 6, the car was tested in real Bangkok traffic conditions and tested to determine its energy consumption rates in different situations.

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