BMW Group Thailand has announced it will begin local production of high-voltage batteries from 2019, confirming what was previously reported earlier this year. Production will take place at a new production facility located in WHA Chonburi Industrial Estate 2, and will be done in partnership with BMW Group’s long-standing partner, Dräxlmaier Group.

“We are very excited to be taking another big step forward in our electro-mobility strategy. The start of local battery production will enable us to better respond to growing demands for electrified vehicles across ASEAN markets,” said Christian Wiedmann, president of BMW Group Thailand.

“Furthermore, this new capability adds to the strengths of Plant Rayong, which has already been serving as an automotive production hub in the region. With four BMW plug-in hybrid models already rolling out from our assembly lines at Plant Rayong, local battery production will certainly complement our production of plug in-hybrids,” he added.

BMW Group Manufacturing Thailand is preparing for local battery production through advanced training and qualification programmes, including sending staff from the Dräxlmaier Group to the battery production training programme at BMW Group Plant Dingolfing and the pilot plant for e-drivetrains.

When production begins, staff will work on battery cells provided by suppliers within the region as well as imported parts that meet both BMW Group standards and Thailand’s local content requirement regulation. Finished batteries will be sent to Plant Rayong for use in PHEVs that are currently assembled there, namely the 330e, the 530e, the X5 xDrive40e and the 740Le.

In 2017, the Thailand’s Board of Investment (BoI) approved promotional privileges for manufacturers of green cars including hybrids, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and full electric vehicles (EVs), with incentives including tax holidays of five to eight years.

According to BMW Group Thailand, it plans to invest over 400 million baht with Dräxlmaier for this e-mobility push, with a further 700 million baht on the way to make way for more locally-produced BMW PHEVs.