The next wave of electric vehicles will navigate Thailand’s waterways instead of its highways.

Battery power soon could transform Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River, with electric catamarans augmenting the cacophonous, wooden longboats that spew exhaust as they motor past the centuries-old Grand Palace and Temple of Dawn. The monuments typically are cloaked by a toxic, flannel-gray smog –- something the government is trying to lift by promoting alternative-energy transportation.

Billionaire Somphote Ahunai is manufacturing 42 aluminum-alloy electric vessels as he revamps his Energy Absolute Pcl utility into the Tesla of Southeast Asia. The 200-passenger craft and their lithium-ion packs are designed by the company as part of an ambitious blueprint that includes a $3 billion battery factory and a line of electric cars.

“It’ll be pollution-free, exhaust-free and noise-free,” said Somphote, the utility’s founder and chief executive officer. “Going into electric boats extends our company’s reach and creates new opportunities.” 

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