Nissan is expected to launch its first test course outside of Japan next to a planned second Thai production plant in Samut Prakan by mid-year, the Bangkok Post reports.

“The Thailand Proving Ground will be the hub of Southeast Asia, which is the base of Nissan Technical Centre. It will help to reduce shipping costs significantly, as all new models have to be shipped to be tested in Japan,” said Takayuki Kimura, president of Nissan Motor Thailand.

Presently, Nissan operates three proving grounds in Japan, namely in Tochigi, Kanagawa (pictured) and Hokkaido. We also know of a Nissan proving ground in the desert of Arizona, USA, so the first overseas test course claim is questionable. Doesn’t change the fact that it’s a big deal, though.

Last year, Nissan announced plans to build an 11 billion baht factory adjacent to its existing one in Samut Prakan. The 24,000 square metre facility will include a production line, R&D centre and the proving ground.

The plant will have a production capacity of 75,000 vehicles a year when it starts operating in August 2014, eventually doubling to 150,000 units. Nissan’s existing factory makes 220,000 cars a year now. Once the second plant is running at full capacity, Nissan Thailand will have an annual production capacity of 370,000 vehicles.

Kimura said that Nissan plans to sell 500,000 vehicles in the Asean region in its fiscal year 2016, which will equate to more than 15% market share. For fiscal year 2012, the company sold 260,000 vehicles in our region for a market share of 7.2%.