Honda Opens Up An 800,000 Square Meter Proving Ground in Thailand


Honda Opens Up An 800,000 Square Meter Proving Ground in Thailand

Perhaps this is the beginning of something interesting. Honda has had a long held tradition of letting different regions work autonomously: Honda Europe and Honda of America aren't tied up by red tape and bureaucracy from Honda Japan, and it is this structure that allows them to really develop products which cater to various regions. The idea of producing "global" products is something more recent as an effort to streamline production and reduce costs, but having a product that works globally isn't quite as good as one that's tailored for a region.

This can even be down to things like material quality and insulation. For example, European products tend to have better build quality but that comes at a cost. Where these aspects are not as important, such as in ASEAN, it makes more sense for a company to trade this away in exchange for more features or options that speaks more to the consumer. The most recent development is the launch of a new proving ground facility in Thailand, by Honda R&D Asia Pacific Co. Ltd. (or HRAP for short). 

The center is unique and comprehensive, featuring 8 different courses to really test the ability of their products. The courses have also been tailored to meet the requirements of the Asian and Oceania region, spanning 800,000 square metres and making Thailand the third country in the world to have such a centre. It caters to both automobiles and motorcycles, assessing handling and stability as well as overall performance. There's even a special section that will be used to test lawn care products in the future. 

The test courses include the following:
1) The Oval Course:
A 2.18 kilometer oval course.  To be used to test a vehicle’s performance while driving at high speeds, plus other tests such as noise levels from wind in the cabin and steering while controlling.
2) The Winding Course:
A 1.38 kilometer winding course. To be used for general performance testing, including the effectiveness of braking systems and vehicle stability. The Winding Course simulates terrain of varying elevations, and incorporates 17 turns and blind spots.
3) The Vehicle Dynamics Area:
An extended area from the Oval Course. To be used to test stability control at high speeds and braking efficiency during sharp turns.
4) The Wet Course:
A course which simulates wet and slippery road conditions.  To be used to test the impact of wet roads on a vehicle’s performance. The Wet Course features the Pool Road, a test road alongside the Splash Road and the Wet Brake Road, which can adjust the water level from 0 to 1,000 millimeters to simulate flooding which is common in Asia, and also test water resistance and any effects on the engine.
5) The Ride Road Course:
A course which simulates road surfaces from different countries in Asia & Oceania. To be used to test general performance on different road surfaces. The Ride Road Course has eight roads including the Concrete Highway, the Noise Road using damaged asphalt, and the Camber Road.
6) The Special Surface Course:
A test course which was designed to model rough road surfaces with 3D technology. To be used to test the durability of the underbody of a vehicle. The course has eight roads, which include the Speed Breaker and the Concrete Rough Road.
7) The Slope Course:
A slope course to be used to test engine strength and braking performance.
8) The Straight Course:
A 1.2 kilometer course to test fuel economy and acceleration.

With this in place, you can expect to see more interesting products- perhaps even products designed specially for our region- even things like the India-only Honda WRV. There's an exciting future ahead for Honda in this region, and it shows their commitment in developing products tailored specifically for us.