Cambodia's First Electric Car Still Not On The Road Due To Funding Shortage Seven Months After Being Unveiled

  @SophieXSong on August 16 2013 5:42 AM
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A caravan of 30 cars and three buses from Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam wait in front of the royal palace in Phnom Penh December 21, 2005. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

More than seven months after its owners unveiled the model, Cambodia’s first personal-use electric car is still not on the road, due to a funding shortage. The project needs another $100 million to finish assembly, which is currently taking place in piecemeal fashion.

The new and improved Angkor EV 2013 was welcomed with great fanfare, but Seang Chan Heng, general director of Heng Development, the company producing the Angkor EV model, said on Tuesday that backing to get the first electric car out is not what it could be, and that she is on the hunt for business partners, according to the Phnom Penh Post, a Cambodian newspaper.

“We really have the intention to make this happen, and we are considering to take a loan from the bank to operate this project,” Heng said. “It is good to have better support from a governmental body or rich people.”

Heng signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chou Leang Alliance Group and car designer Nhean Phalloek in a $20 million deal that included a manufacturing factory in Kandal province, and foresaw a workforce of 300. Heng did not comment on the state of the factory, but said that assembly lines have suffered from the lack of ongoing funding.

Only a few units have come off the line, said Heng, adding that she was preparing a video detailing production challenges facing the factory. Phalloek, the car designer, declined to comment on the car. In 2010, he said that the vehicles would cost about $10,000 each, the Phnom Penh Post reported.

At the unveiling in January, Heng blamed production delays on a break with a business partner who dropped out of the deal. The prototype unveiled then is still on display at the company’s showroom on Monivong Boulevard in Phnom Penh.

If the car gets produced eventually, it will enter Cambodia’s growing auto market, but it remains to be seen whether an electric vehicle can gain market share, as Cambodian consumers can spend the same amount of money for second-hand cars, which account for the majority of purchases.

Sales of new cars in the country have been on the rise, but it is still just about 2,000 units annually, a tenth of the used car demand of 20,000 units per year. Toyota sold just over 600 units in the first half of this year, a 50 percent increase from the same period in 2012.

Sales are on track to beat the 800 units that rolled out of dealerships in the entire year of 2012, according to the Phnom Penh Post.

 

 

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