The Thailand Ministry of Science and Technology is putting in place several plans which it hopes will eventually allow Thailand to become a global production hub for electric vehicles (EVs), reports the Bangkok Post.
For a start, the Thailand Science Park, established in 2002 and is now in its second phase of development, has now been designated as an EV parts research and development centre.
The ministry is also working with Thailand’s Board of Investment and the National Economic and Social Development board to come up with the necessary incentives for investors in the creation of special innovation zone (SIZ) to spur demand for EVs.
Science and Technology Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj told the Thai daily that the ministry plans to coordinate with government universities to set up fuel cell training courses to be included in the area of mechanical engineering with the goal of creating EV experts.
"The global automobile industry is focusing on EVs and biofuel vehicles, while Thailand is a hub for one-tonne pickups and eco-car production. It's a natural fit for the country to prepare for EV output," said Pichet.
Currently, the Thailand Science Park is home to four research institutes, and boasts having 2,000 full-time researchers, of which around 500 are Ph.D. scientists focusing on electronics and computers, genetic engineering and biotechnology, metal and materials technology, as well as nanotechnology.
The spinoffs from the research will benefit not just the automotive sector, but can spur the development of other related sectors like renewable energy.
“If the government promotes production of EV batteries, it could lead to breakthroughs in storage systems used for wind and solar power,” said Pitchet.
Science Park director Janekrishna Kanatharana said the Thailand Science Park is equipped with the necessary equipment and facilities to support research for the auto-parts sector. The first phase of the science park had already reached 90 percent occupancy while the second phase, covering a total area of 300,000 square metres, is already 50 percent occupied.
Several organizations in Thailand including Thailand’s oil company PTT, the Metropolitan Electricity Authority, the Provincial Electricity Authority are conducting field trials involving EVs of various sizes.