Chinese Electric Vehicles Gaining Momentum in Cambodia

Udom Pisey, an EV manager at the Car4you Co., Ltd., poses for a photo with a Letin Mengo EV during an expo in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Aug. 11, 2023. Photo by Sovan/Xinhua

PHNOM PENH -- Kim Kheang, a 25-year-old trader in Cambodia, has decided to shift to use a Chinese electric vehicle (EV) in a move to save fuel costs and help keep the air clean.

Speaking to Xinhua while buying a Hongqi electric car in Phnom Penh on Monday, Kheang hopes that the EV would halve his fuel costs and contribute to protecting the environment.

"Previously, I used a gasoline-powered car, and my expense on petrol costs was a bit high at 300 to 400 U.S. dollars per month," he told Xinhua.

Kheang said the EV price was similar to that of a petrol vehicle.

"This Hongqi EV is my favorite because it is a high-end brand in China, and it is beautiful, with high quality and a competitive price," he said.

Moeurng Sokmeng, a sales supervisor at the Mingyang Guoji Co., Ltd., which is the sole agent of the Hongqi brand in Cambodia, said since the government began to encourage the imports of EVs, consumers' interest has considerably increased because they are aware of the advantages such as reduced fuel costs and environmental friendliness.

"Currently, we have sold out a lot of EVs, both small-scale and large-scale, and our EVs have received considerable support from consumers," she told Xinhua.

She said a full charge for a Hongqi EV costs only 9 dollars, and it can be driven up to 431 kilometers.

"At this distance, if we use a petrol or hybrid car, it costs up to 30 U.S. dollars for gasoline, so using EVs benefits consumers a lot," Sokmeng said.

Udom Pisey, an EV manager at the Car4you Co., Ltd., which imports Letin Mengo EVs from China, said EVs have far fewer moving parts than petrol or diesel vehicles, so maintenance and repair costs are lower than internal combustion vehicles.

"Using electric cars saves money, as they are easy to charge and environment-friendly," she told Xinhua.

She said EV prices are similar to those of petrol or diesel vehicles, but because the government has encouraged people to use EVs, it has lowered import duty for this kind of vehicle.

"Prices of electric cars at our company range from more than 10,000 U.S. dollars to more than 40,000 dollars, and our EVs can run from more than 200 kilometers to 500 kilometers (per charge) based on models," Pisey said.

"For electric cars, the more we use, the more money we save and particularly, they are eco-friendly," she added.

The Cambodian government has been encouraging people to use EVs and electric motorcycles, as they are environment-friendly and can save users' money.

According to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, some 800 new EVs had been registered in the country as of February 2023, as the number of electric two-wheel vehicles was unavailable.

The ministry said the Southeast Asian country is committed to having 40 percent of EV cars and 70 percent of electric motorbikes by 2050 to reduce carbon emissions.

To achieve this target, the government has reduced import duties on electric vehicles since 2021 to about 50 percent lower than taxes on traditional internal combustion engine vehicles. 

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