Thailand investigates EV giant BYD’s dealers over unfair discounting complaint

BANGKOK, – Thai authorities are investigating BYD’s dealers after a consumer complaint over aggressive discounting in a key international market for the Chinese EV giant that has left some buyers upset with how much they paid for their cars.

The office of the Thai Prime Minister instructed the country’s consumer protection agency to launch the probe.

It was triggered after a BYD customer alleged that a sales representative had asserted the customer’s car’s price would rise after a discounting campaign ended but instead the dealership later aggressively cut the price further, according to a government statement.

BYD officials in Thailand and its sole distributor Rever Automotive, which has a network of over 100 dealerships, did not immediately respond to Reuters emails seeking comment.

“We have called the dealers to come in this week to clarify why they cut prices further and how they plan to find a solution for customers,” Passakorn Thapmongkol, a senior official at the Consumer Protection Board told Reuters.

On a BYD owners group on Facebook, other Thai customers shared similar complaints.

“The salesperson said that prices would increase after the motor show, but in the end, it was really reduced,” Facebook user Thanasit Chai said in a post on Wednesday, referring to the Bangkok Motor Show held in March.

Thailand is the largest overseas market for the world’s biggest EV manufacturer. BYD commanded a 46% share of the Thai EV market in the first quarter and is the third-largest player in passenger cars overall with share of about 9%, according to research firm Counterpoint.

Other EV rivals in the market include Great Wall Motor and Tesla.

BYD is scheduled to open its first EV production facility in Southeast Asia in Thailand’s eastern Rayong province on Thursday. It plans to invest around $490 million in the facility to produce 150,000 cars per year.

Shenzhen-headquartered BYD currently sells four models in Thailand priced between 699,999 baht and 1.59 million baht ($19,000 to $43,200), according to Rever’s website.

Led by BYD and Vietnam’s VinFast, EV sales in Southeast Asia have more than doubled since last year at the expense of Japanese and Korean makers of traditional gasoline engine models.

($1 = 36.8000 baht)

Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Chayut Setboonsarng, Writing by Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Edwina Gibbs