BMW Group Manufacturing Thailand, a local production arm of the German luxury car maker, expects its Thai supplier of high-voltage batteries to lower its car assembly cost for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) sold in Thailand.
The new supplier, Draexlmaier Group Thailand, has started local assembly of EV batteries at WHA Chonburi Industrial Estate 2. The plant won the government's EV privileges last November with an investment of 540 million baht, including land purchase.
BMW and Draexlmaier have said the plant is the only high-voltage battery production site in Southeast Asia for module production and pack assembly, as most EV battery facilities in Thailand are involved with just the final stage, packing battery modules.
The first two processes for EV batteries, component and cell production, cannot be done at the plant.
Uwe Quaas, managing director of BMW's local production, said the local supplier can increase BMW's local content proportion in its car assembly.
BMW runs a car and motorcycle plant at Amata City Industrial Estate in Rayong, just 14 kilometres from Draexlmaier's EV battery plant.
"The assembly cost of BMW also reduces as well," Mr Quaas said.
In the past, BMW imported high-voltage batteries from Dingolfing, Germany for use in plug-in hybrid EVs assembled and sold locally.
Moreover, BMW itself won investment privileges of 705 million baht in July 2018 for further expansion of this EV version.
At present, plug-in hybrid EVs account for 25% of BMW's sales in Thailand.
Gerhard Irnesberger, Draexlmaier's plant director, said the EV battery plant produces two variants -- 11.5 kilowatt-hour and 23kWh -- representing the fourth generation of BMW's high-voltage batteries. Both are equipped for PHEVs.
The battery output supplies the BMW 530e and BMW 740Le.
Mr Irnesberger said current production can serve only PHEVs, but the plant must enlarge production for battery EVs in the future because BMW plans to assemble the top EV version.
Draexlmaier Group is a German auto components supplier with expertise in electric systems in vehicles. The company operates 60 manufacturing sites worldwide, 12 of which are in Asia.
It runs two plants in Thailand, including the latest in Chon Buri. The first site is in Rayong and supplies harness systems and electronic components for car makers in Thailand.
The two plants under the operation of DTS Draexlmaier Automotive System Thailand employ 1,000 workers.