BMW Group is pushing ahead with its plan to expand its Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle (PHEV) operations in Thailand, Bangkok Post reports that the company has set aside a THB 1 billion investment to be utilised in 2016 and 2017.
The carmaker has invested some THB 3.7 billion from 2000 to 2015 – another THB 488 million was spent at the end of 2016, to expand the PHEV line-up. The remaining funds will go into doubling the production capacity at BMWs’ Amata City Industrial Estate plant in the Rayong Province.
BMW Group Thailand began assembly of two PHEV models in November 2016 - the BMW 330e and BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport.
At present, BMW’s Rayong plant is capable of assembling 20,000 cars for BMW and Mini, and 10,000 motorcycles for BMW Motorrad a year.
Bangkok post reports, currently the plant exports a large number of BMW X3 and X5 models to China. BMW aim to export 10,000 units of the models to China in 2017. About 1,000 BMW Motorrad motorcycles have also been exported to Malaysia and China.
The expansion plan also includes importing advanced technology to manufacture the car batteries in Rayong by mid-2018, which are currently imported from Europe.
Stefan Teuchert, the new president of BMW Group Thailand comments, the company also plans to localise the assembly for the (G11) BMW 7 Series and upcoming (G30) BMW 5 Series PHEV models.
BMW also plans to improve the charging infrastructure by adding another seven charging locations; to the current five already in place in Bangkok this year.
According to Teuchert, the investment is aimed at coping for future PHEV demands both domestically and abroad. Additionally, Bangkok Post reports that the BMW Group expects the sales of hybrid cars, mainly PHEVs to rise to 15 percent from 5 percent of annual sales currently.
Besides the Thai expansion plan, BMW Group also plans to make a Malaysia a strategic export hub of the BMW 3 Series, 5 Series and 7 Series models to Vietnam and the Philippines.