Driving Change: Khanist Srivajiraprabha
Nex Point Founder and CEO Khanist Srivajiraprabha opens up about taking advantage of the shifting tide toward electric vehicles.
While Khanist Srivajiraprabha admits that he may have stumbled upon the automotive manufacturing industry by chance more than a decade ago, there’s no doubt that he chose the right arena to establish a business in.
What started as a business selling tourist buses in Thailand grew into what Nex Point is today – a hugely successful and innovative company primarily developing and manufacturing electric commercial vehicles.
"About three or four years ago, China’s new energy bus market began to boom, and we recognized the potential in this area," Srivajiraprabha tells The CEO Magazine.
"Many countries around the world have set goals for vehicles to be all-electric. For instance, by 2035, all new cars sold in Europe will be battery-electric. We believe that the Thai market is very large because there are around 1.5 million licensed commercial vehicles in Thailand, with a turnover of 50,000 to 80,000 units every year for fueled vehicles.
"Before we entered the market, the new electric vehicle market was non-existent. This means that there is infinite potential for us here, as all 1.5 million vehicles may need to be replaced with new energy vehicles at a later stage and we are positioned perfectly to do that."
But to achieve this, he knows the company needs strong partners by its side.
The new energy vehicle industry is currently a high-profit margin market, providing ample opportunities for all parties to gain a significant return on investment.
Nex Point approaches partnerships with an aim of stability and longevity, with Srivajiraprabha explaining that it’s all about prioritizing building collaborations based on win–win situations.
"It’s important for both parties to complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses," he explains.
"As our company has a geographical advantage, we have been collaborating with organizations from mainland China that are interested in expanding into the Thai market. The new energy vehicle industry is currently a high-profit margin market, providing ample opportunities for all parties to gain a significant return on investment."
Srivajiraprabha points out that because the automotive manufacturing industry is unlike others, where products can be bought and sold quickly for profit, the commitment of a car purchase means that after-sale services to customers must be of an incredibly high quality in order to sufficiently match the substantial purchase cost.
"To ensure that we can deliver on this, we carefully select our component suppliers," he says.
"We require that our suppliers have a sufficiently large and stable business, which will ensure that they remain in operation for at least two-to-three years after we have purchased their products. Without such stability, we may be forced to find a substitute product at a higher cost, or we may not be able to find a substitute at all."
It’s also vital for the suppliers to operate with Nex Point in a collaborative manner, to have plans to continue expanding globally and adapt to changing market conditions.
Currently, we have experienced R&D teams to develop every component, from charging piles to batteries to completed vehicles.
"Many Chinese companies are content with their success in the domestic market and lack the willingness to enhance their products to meet the requirements of other markets," Srivajiraprabha says.
"This can hinder our product development plans in the future. Therefore, we seek suppliers who share our vision to expand internationally, invest in development and enter the global market."
In order to remain at the forefront of the industry when it comes to innovation and sustainable developments, Srivajiraprabha says the most valuable thing has been possessing the entire industrial chain, by producing all of their own parts required for the vehicles. "We must have our own R&D team and develop the EV ecosystem ourselves so that we will not be affected by other suppliers," he explains.
"Currently, we have experienced R&D teams to develop every component, from charging piles to batteries to completed vehicles. We are able to manufacture vehicles ourselves without relying on external suppliers, which is the biggest advantage of our company."
One step ahead
Looking to the next chapter, Srivajiraprabha believes the next two years in particular will be crucial for the company, with its focus primarily on the Thai market for this period.
"Other foreign companies have yet to fully establish themselves in Thailand, and it typically takes at least two years for a business to set up its factory and begin production," he says.
"Therefore, these two years present a window of opportunity for us. We must take advantage of this period to lay a solid foundation in Thailand. Our goal is to capture at least 30 percent of the Thai market by the end of next year."
Our goal is to capture at least 30 percent of the Thai market by the end of next year.
In addition, Nex Point is working towards further expansion in South-East Asia through the establishment of a factory in Thailand so that vehicles can be exported to the 10 Association of South-East Asian Nations countries without being subject to tariffs. Another positive is that many countries have recently adopted policies that encourage the use of new energy vehicles.
"Selling cars to other countries is subject to passing local regulations, which can vary significantly from country to country. Therefore, we must carry out vehicle restructuring and modification according to the different laws and regulations of each country, which will take approximately a year," Srivajiraprabha explains.
"After this period, we expect to have a strong presence in South-East Asia, with our retail stores visible in Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore."