Maiden electric vehicle plant in Chattogram at Tk 14b investment 

Electric vehicles in a display centre of Audi in the capital's Tejgaon area.
Jahidul Karim

The country’s very first electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing plant is under construction in Chattogram, with an investment of Tk 14.4 billion.

The Bangladesh Auto Industries Limited (BAIL) is implementing the project in the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar (BSMSN) in Mirsarai, and planning to launch the locally produced electric vehicles in the market by next March.

Of the investment, an amount of Tk 7.9 billion is funded by ten banks, while the remaining fund will come from private entrepreneurs. The authorities have already completed the factory construction works on a portion of 100 acres of land in the BSMSN economic zone and are now installing the machinery. 

The factory will manufacture key components of electric vehicles, including the main body, battery, motor, and charger. The productions will account for approximately 75 per cent of the total investment, while the remaining 25 per cent will be spent to import the interior designs. 

The vehicles will go through rigorous testing before being released to the market. There is a plan to add charging facilities to petrol pumps across the country. 

The BAIL is a subsidiary of Mango Teleservices. Its chairman A Mannan Khan, who has been running the technology business for 30 years, said it is a global trend that the tech companies spearhead EV manufacturing industries and they followed the suit. 

It is the time to manufacture eco-friendly vehicles in the country. The space for conventional automotive industry is shrinking and, at the same time, being replaced by electric vehicles, he added. 

Big investments in three factories 

The total fund will be divided among three factories, each responsible for manufacturing different components of the electric vehicles. With an investment of Tk 5.5 billion, the BAIL will produce the main body of the vehicles, including sedans, SUVs, microbuses, trucks, covered vans, and buses. A consortium of banks, including Agrani Bank, BDBL, BIFFL, Islami Bank, and First Security Islami Bank, will contribute Tk 2.4 billion to the venture.

When contacted, the managing director (MD) of Agrani Bank did not make any comments over the investment. 

Islami Bank MD Mohammed Monirul Moula said cost-effective electric vehicles are gaining popularity globally. “We got engaged in the project in the consideration of the country’s betterment. We intend to participate in more projects that fall into the line.” 

Apart from that, the lithium batteries will be produced in the factory of Bangladesh Lithium Battery Limited, a subsidiary of BAIL. The batteries will be used in electric vehicles consisting of two, three, or four wheels, in addition to some other machinery. 

The factory will cost Tk 7.5 billion to be constructed, where Tk 5.5 billion will be funded by different banks. The Eastern Bank has reached a consensus with the BDBL, Sonali Bank, Rupali Bank and Mercantile Bank to collectively provide Tk 3.5 billion as the first installment of the Tk 5.5 billion fund, with the remaining Tk 2 billion planned for the second installment.

The managing director of Rupali Bank, Mohammad Jahangir, said, “We have been with the project due to its unique and promising aspect. We hope Bangladesh will enter the era of eco-friendly electric vehicles thanks to the project.” 

The remaining parts, including motors, motor controlling and charging systems, will be produced in a factory of Mango Technologies Limited. The entrepreneurs are investing Tk 1.4 billion to set up a factory in this regard. 

And, the interior designs will be imported through the Mutual Trust Bank. 

A Mannan Khan, an entrepreneur, said the good banks express interest in this type of projects across the world and the situation here is nothing different. 

He disclosed that equipment for the projects has already been imported, and installation is set to commence in October, while the trial run is scheduled for January. They are planning to launch the vehicles in the market next March. 

How will the EVs cost? 

The electric cars will be branded as a locally manufactured product. The BAIL will have an annual manufacturing capacity of 60,000 2-wheelers, 40,000 3-wheelers, and 30,000 4-wheelers. 

The project will create employment opportunities for around 1,500 people, with the potential for further expansion that could employ up to 5,000 people at a time.

The vehicles are designed with user comfort in mind, featuring modern facilities. There will be inside charging and Wi-Fi facilities, allowing passengers to conduct business or work while on the move. 

The price will vary based on the vehicles’ charging capacity and range. A sedan car with a 250 km single-charge range will cost Tk 1.2 to 1.3 million, while that of 350 km single-charge range will cost Tk 1.6 to 1.7 million. 

The price of a SUV or Jeep with a 350 km single-charge range will be Tk 2.3 to 2.5 million, while that of 400 km single-charge range is Tk 2.8 to 3 million. 

A seven-seater microbus with a 250 km single-charge range will cost Tk 2 to 2.2 million and that of 350-km charge range will cost Tk 2.5 to 2.6 million. 

Besides, a three-wheeler will be priced at Tk 400,000 to 500,000, while the prices of covered vans, trucks, and buses will range from Tk 1.5 to 3 million.