Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor (GWM) is making Thailand its base for the company's first smart factory in Southeast Asia in a move to boost sales in international markets.
The company did not reveal whether the facility, located in Rayong, will be used to produce battery electric vehicles (BEVs), although it announced in March that BEVs will be rolled out of a manufacturing plant in Thailand within 2023.
"The factory will first produce a GWM sport utility vehicle named HAVAL," a company representative told the Bangkok Post yesterday.
The new plant was upgraded and renovated from a car production facility previously belonging to General Motors (GM) which sold it to GWM following GM's decision to withdraw from Thailand.
GWM earlier announced it would spend 22-billion-baht on investment for a factory upgrade, electric vehicle (EV) production and a renewable energy business.
The company has taken only seven months to put everything in place to fully open the smart factory. The official opening ceremony is scheduled for June 9.
The smart factory, a blend of high-tech machinery and digital solutions, is a type of manufacturing plant promoted under Thailand's ambitions for the fourth industrial revolution, emphasising technological advances and high-level services, Elliot Zhang, president of Great Wall Motor Asean and Thailand, said earlier.
To modernise the factory, GWM brought in state-of-the-art production technologies, including powertrain technologies as well as automated production systems such as artificial intelligence and robotic technologies from China.
"The Rayong factory will have a production capacity of 80,000 units per annum. It will serve as the production base for right-hand-drive vehicles in this region," GWM said.
The production will be 60% for the domestic market and 40% for export.
The Rayong factory marks a new milestone for the firm in helping spur the Thai economy and creating jobs for Thai people.
It will also play a role in "enabling the Thai automotive industry to make its mark in the international market, especially in the EV segment," said GWM.
The National New Generation Vehicle Committee set the goal of having 50% of vehicles made locally being EVs by 2030.
Many firms, including those traditionally not part of the auto industry, have launched various projects to build EVs and their infrastructure.
The latest move was announced on May 31 in a cooperation between PTT Plc and Taiwan's Foxconn in the production of EVs and their components for the Thai market.