Thailand is going one level up in its wooing of the automotive industry. The country’s first automotive and tyre testing centre that follows global standards is due to open next year, Bangkok Post reports.

The centre will be used for certification and R&D purposes, and is part of the country’s push to become a manufacturing hub for next-generation auto products, said industry minister Uttama Savanayana, who added that the entire centre will be completed in 2019.

The 3.7-billion baht (RM477 million) test centre sits on 197 hectares of land in Chachoengsao province’s section of the Eastern Economic Corridor (image above is for illustration only).

Besides carmakers, of which many have regional hubs in the “Detroit of the East”, the project will also benefit tyre manufacturers, which in turn will boost demand for rubber. According to the report, 70% of rubber output is absorbed by the tyre industry. Uttama said the test centre will be the first with global standards in Thailand, accepted by automakers in the US, Europe and Japan.

Somchai Hanhiran, the permanent industry secretary, said that the first phase of the test centre – with a 1.4-km circuit track – is due to be completed first, and this will be by mid-2018.

For the second phase, the Thai plans to construct five small testing fields for various types of automobile, tyre and auto parts testing. The ministry is requesting another tranche of funds from the government for the construction of the second phase, which is due to start in 2018.