The governments of Japan and Thailand will jointly build large-scale auto testing facilities that will be the first of their kind in Thailand. The Thais will construct facilities according to a Japanese plan for test courses and crash-test machines in accordance with the quality standards of similar facilities in Japan. Japanese and other non-Japanese automakers in Thailand will share the facilities, which are scheduled to start operation around 2020. The initiative is expected to enhance the efficiency of Thailand’s R&D, and at the same time promote the localization of auto manufacturing.
The testing facilities will be built in the central region of Thailand at the cost of about 11 billion yen. The construction will start next year by creating artificial woodland to build test courses and facilities. It will include the first-in-the-nation crash test site and a high speed test course.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will lead the effort of putting together a proposal based on standard equipment purchasing plans of Japanese automakers.
Thailand manufactured 1.91 million cars last year, 60% of which were exported mainly in Asia. Japanese automakers regard Thailand as their core production center, responsible for 90% of their production. Major Japanese auto makers are currently expanding R&D capacity in Thailand to explore possibilities for new products targeted for emerging economies.
The ability to test vehicles in Thailand without sending them back to Japan for specialized testing will significantly improve the efficiency of the development of new models. It will shorten the time span of new car development by several months, and at the same time reduce costs by saving the tariff and transportation expenses incurred in sending cars back and forth for testing.
By becoming an R&D center, the government of Thailand hopes to nurture more technologically sophisticated industries in Thailand to compensate for the increasing labor cost and labor shortage. The Thais sought cooperation of the Japanese government in the initiative, expecting that building test facilities of the same quality as domestic Japanese facilities will promote localization of R&D businesses and help Thailand become the center of R&D in South East Asia. (Abridged)