, Hozon and SAIC together accounted for more than 68 percent of the Southeast Asian BEV market in the first quarter.

(Image credit: CnEVPost)

Chinese brands are dominating the currently small but fast-growing Southeast Asian electric vehicle (EV) market.

Chinese automakers are experiencing rapid growth and outpacing their competitors in the Southeast Asian region, gaining nearly 75 percent of the battery electric vehicle (BEV) market in the first quarter, up from 38 percent a year ago, market researcher Counterpoint Research said.

In the first quarter, BYD emerged as the BEV market leader in Southeast Asia, capturing the bulk of sales, followed by Hozon -- owner of the brand -- and SAIC, Counterpoint analyst Abhilash Gupta said in a report yesterday.

Together, these three companies account for more than 68 percent of the BEV market in Southeast Asia, which the report refers to as Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

China's Holding Group topped the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) market in Southeast Asia, followed by BMW Group and Mercedes-Benz Group, according to Counterpoint.

BYD's Atto 3 -- known as the Yuan Plus in China -- was the best-selling BEV in Southeast Asia, followed by the Neta V and the Model Y.

Among PHEVs, Volvo's XC60 was the top seller, followed by the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

Passenger BEV sales in Southeast Asia grew nearly 10-fold year-on-year in the first quarter, reaching a 3.8 percent share of total passenger vehicle sales, up from 0.3 percent a year ago, Counterpoint said, adding that the share is expected to reach 6 percent by the end of the year.

Thailand emerged as the leading country, accounting for more than 75 percent of BEV sales, followed by Indonesia and Vietnam. Thailand also had the highest share of BEVs in total passenger car sales, followed by Singapore and Vietnam.

However, PHEV sales increased modestly by 5.8 percent year-on-year, according to Counterpoint.

Thailand's government-led efforts to promote EV sales have yielded positive outcomes, while Indonesia and Vietnam are also performing well in the region, Gupta said.

In addition to offering subsidies and tax incentives, the Thai government has set ambitious goals to position itself as a global EV production hub, said Soumen Mandal, another Counterpoint analyst.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Thailand's EV sector grew significantly last year. A number of Chinese automakers, including Great Wall Motor, BYD, Hozon and Changan Automobile, have expressed interest or have already begun setting up production facilities in Thailand, Mandal added.

Indonesia announced a subsidy program in March to promote the purchase and manufacture of EVs, with a particular focus on increasing local production. The move is expected to further accelerate the production and sales of EVs in the region, Mandal said.

China's influence in the Southeast Asian EV market will be strengthened as it establishes a regional manufacturing base, which will drive further growth in the EV industry, Mandal said.

BYD begins construction of Thailand plant with annual capacity of 150,000 units