German luxury automaker BMW Group Thailand has teamed up with a supplier, Draxlmaier Group, to localise high-voltage battery production with an investment of 400 million baht in Chon Buri province.
The plant is located in WHA Chonburi Industrial Estate 2, formerly known as Hemaraj Chonburi Industrial Estate 2.
The new facility is 14 kilometres from BMW's car and motorcycle assembly plant at Amata City Industrial Estate in Rayong.
According to the Board of Investment (BoI), the project won electric vehicle (EV) incentives on Nov 27 with an application for 540 million baht, including land buying. DTS Draxlmaier Automotive System Thailand is in charge of the battery plant.
The plant encompasses production of the battery modules, scheduled to start operations around mid-2019, and the output will be supplied to the assembly line of BMW's plug-in hybrid EVs in Rayong.
Christian Wiedmann, president of BMW's local unit, said Draxlmaier is one of the world's top automotive suppliers and a strong systems partner of BMW Group since 1966.
At the Rayong plant, DTS Draxlmaier now makes a cable harness that transmits signals or electrical power to BMW's local assembled cars.
Handled by BMW Group Manufacturing Thailand, the Rayong plant is laying a foundation for battery production through advanced training and qualification programmes that began in September.
Draxlmaier has been taking part in the battery production training programme at BMW's plant in Dingolfing, Germany.
"It is another step forward in the electromobility strategy, as BMW announced the plan in early 2018," Mr Wiedmann said. "The start of local battery production will enable BMW to respond to growing demand for electrified vehicles across Southeast Asia markets."
The Rayong plant now assembles four BMW plug-in hybrid EVs: the 330e, the 530e, the X5 xDrive40e M Sport and the 740Le.
BMW also won BoI's investment privileges of 700 million baht for the further expansion of this EV version on July 25.
Mr Wiedmann said battery production will complement BMW's assembly of plug-in hybrid EVs in Thailand.
Gerhard Irnesberger, plant director of Draxlmaier Group Thailand, said the group has two teams working hand in hand from Germany and Thailand to lead the project.
The staff will work on battery cells provided by suppliers in Asia, along with other imported parts such as aluminium housing, electronics and cables to roll out high-voltage batteries that meet Thailand's local content requirement regulations.