Ducati and Honda to build advanced motorcycles in Thailand
Italy’s renowned motorcycle manufacturer Ducati said last week it is interested in merging its research and development activities with the Thai Automotive Testing Center being built in the Eastern Economic Corridor, while Japan’s Honda is asking the Thai government to allow its electric motorcycles to be sold in the Kingdom as a prelude to manufacturing them in the Corridor.
“For Ducati, the government testing center and proving ground can fill a void for the company as we have yet to have our own R&D facility in Thailand,” said Ducati’s chief executive Claudio Domenicali. The company partners with a testing facility in Italy for the big bikes it produces in Europe.
Construction on Thailand’s $112 million automotive testing center, which is wholly owned by the government, recently began and is slated for completion in 2020. Situated in Chachoengsao province, one of the three provinces that make up the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), the center is intended to advance the development of the automotive industry.
Thailand is known as “the Detroit of Southeast Asia” because of its sizeable and well-established vehicle-manufacturing sector, but policymakers are striving to maintain the country’s competitive edge in that industry in the face of rising competition. Automotive one of 10 industries targeted for government support and promotion under Thailand 4.0, the 20-year national strategy to drive Thailand’s economy to a higher-tech level.
Domenicali said that upgrading Thailand’s human resources would be essential to achieving that goal. He said scholarships and on-the-job training are important to creating the skilled workers the sector will need to succeed.
“There is still some way to go to reach 4.0, especially in regards to technical automotive skills that need improvement in many aspects. Industry 4.0 is not only digital aspects, but also general aspects such as creating middle-skilled workers able to operate an up-to-date system or maneuver a complex situation by themselves,’’ Domenicali said.
Thailand is also promoting the production of electric vehicles as a way to stay a lap ahead of the competition. While several manufacturers, such as Toyota, are building or experimenting with electric and hybrid vehicle production in the Kingdom, Honda said last week that it would like to produce electric motorcycles in Thailand.
However, Honda is asking the government to amend rules on electrical safety so that it can market and sell its PCX Electric motorcycle, currently made in Japan, in Thailand and build demand for the bike before committing to manufacturing them in the Kingdom.
Photo courtesy of www.ducati.com/apparel/index.do