Thailand’s vision for its automotive industry extends beyond EVs to include the four major trends of cutting-edge transportation. With a commitment to vehicles that are connected, autonomous, shared and electric (CASE), Thailand aims to create a safe, clean and sustainable transportation system. The national target of phasing out traditional combustion vehicles from all new registered cars by 2035 will shape the direction of both the private sector and academic institutions towards these new global mobility trends.
On the back of Thailand’s accommodative business environment and competitive cutting-edge technology, local entrepreneurs are increasingly launching ventures that delve into the next-generation transportation mode. One such startup has joined forces with the National Science and Technology Development Agency to manufacture the first AI self-driving three wheelers. This development reflects Thailand’s drive to be the leader of ASEAN’s next-generation transportation concept1.
Thailand’s proven strengths in the areas of the Internet of Things (IoT) and next-generation platform capabilities such as cloud computing will also support the development of big data. It is this established infrastructure which will enable the realisation of connected and shared transportation concepts, linking vehicles to vehicles, vehicles to infrastructure and vehicles to smart phones. Thailand is also ready to embrace new opportunities arising from the Mobility as a Service concept whereby vehicles can be operated along on-demand routes.
Given the requirements for these new-generation platforms, such as cloud computing and AI, Thailand has sought and attracted huge investment in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), a special economic zone equipped with 5G, fibre optics, data centres and various partnerships between the public and the private sector as well as academic institutions. The EEC has introduced 21 promoted zones to serve as the locations for Thailand’s 12 designated targeted industries and drive future economic growth in sectors that include next-generation transportation, digital, biotechnology, food for the future, smart electronics and robotics2.
The EEC Innovation Zone (EECi) is an innovation hub located at Wangchan Valley in Rayong Province. The EECi includes comprehensive facilities to support the creation, development and scaling of innovations. Managed by the National Science and Technology Agency, the EECi ecosystem for innovation is comprised of laboratories, testing centres, facilities for testbeds and field demonstrations to facilitate the translation of R&D concepts to commercial uses3. The EECi has also created a regulatory sandbox to support start-ups and SMEs through the testing and incubation of innovative products and services. Providing a convenient setting in which the business community and academic institutions can network, the EECi serves as a meeting point for start-ups and venture capitalists. The EECi’s innovation facilities, including an autonomous vehicle living lab, support the development of CASE vehicles in areas such as AI, battery and energy storage development, field testing, vehicle navigation and mapping, and system integration.
Such an enabling environment fosters the research and development of hardware and software for CASE transportation modes as well as for related high-technology industries such as automation and robotics, digital and smart electronics.
The EEC also houses the first EV Battery Testing Center in ASEAN3. Operated by the Thailand Automotive Institute, the facility provides testing of the safety and performance of the EV batteries used in passenger cars and motorcycles as well as offering consultation and training services for businesses. The centre has also co-invested with TÜV SÜD PSB (Thailand) to develop testing, inspection and certification standards for EV batteries. Expected to achieve full operation within this year, the centre initially expects to offer battery testing services for 50 trials per year.