Mercedes and Mitsubishi charging EV tech production in Thailand

Mercedes Benz has announced that it will team up with Thailand’s lead science agency to test electric vehicle (EV) and battery technology, and transfer the knowledge to the Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Mitsubishi Motors chose Thailand last week as the first country outside Japan, where it will make hybrid electric vehicles.

“Demand for EVs in Thailand is increasing,” said Andreas Lettner chief executive of Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing Thailand. “Mercedes-Benz is committed to its local manufacturing operations to be ready for electric mobility, especially via battery EVs.”

Narong Sirilertworakul, President of the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), said the investment by Mercedes would raise the level of Thailand’s auto-tech sector.

“We hope to develop a production base for batteries in Thailand to align with international quality standards,” Narong said.

Mercedes and the NSTDA appointed PTEC (Electrical and Electronic Products Testing Center) as the laboratory that will test batteries for plug-in hybrid EVs. Mercedes expects that the lab will be up and running for enhanced product validation testing this year.

The lab will be the first EV battery testing facility in Thailand. The selection is part of efforts to establish the infrastructure needed to support a higher-technology automotive industry in Thailand. Also, on the drawing board for Mercedes and the NSTDAS are plans to create an autonomous vehicle testing lab.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors said it intends to produce hybrid EVs in Thailand by 2021. The company will invest $92 million in its factory in Chonburi province on the Eastern Seaboard for that purpose.

The announcement is a strong vote of confidence in Thailand. The Chonburi plant will be the first to produce Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid EVs outside of Japan.

Initial output will be modest at 3,000 vehicles during the first year. The EV market in Thailand and Southeast Asia is small, but Mitsubishi believes that it will grow.

EVs and EV batteries are industries that receive strong Thai government support under the national strategy to promote advanced and green industries. The government believes those industries will be drivers of Thailand’s economy as it upgrades for the future.