It’s the epitome of a closed circuit: the utility helping power one of Southeast Asia’s biggest cities is building electric cars, batteries and charging stations for the nascent market, and then supplying the juice to keep them all running.

Thailand billionaire Somphote Ahunai envisions his Energy Absolute Pcl as a titan of EVs even though there are less than 1,500 battery-powered vehicles in the country. That’s about 0.004% of registered vehicles through December.

Southeast Asia has been slow to adopt passenger EVs because of high sticker prices and a predilection for two-wheelers, but Thailand’s government sees them as a way to ease Bangkok’s air pollution and fortify an automotive industry generating about 12% of gross domestic product. Energy Absolute is using subsidies and tax breaks to put 5,000 EVs on the road by next year, backed by 700-plus charging stations. It’s also planning a $3 billion factory to make lithium-ion batteries.

“The trend is clear: it’s time for Thailand to stop being complacent and pursue higher technology to drive economic growth,” said Somphote, the utility’s founder and chief executive officer. “EV technology opens up new opportunities for success by new players.”

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