Major Chinese carmaker SAIC lately held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new industrial park in the Hemaraj Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate in Thailand’s Chonburi Province. Spanning an area of 120,000 square meters, the industrial park will accommodate manufacturing facilities for NEVs and related key components. The industrial park will be developed in multiple phases. The first phase will involve the setup of new production lines for NEV power battery modules and packs. The production lines are expected to be built within 2023, and the entire industrial park is scheduled for completed by 2025. SAIC said the industrial park is intended to meet the demand from Thailand as well as the entire ASEAN market.
As far back as 2013, SAIC formed a joint venture with Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group. Named SAIC-CP Motor, the joint venture aims to accelerate the internationalization of SAIC’s subsidiary brand MG and expand SAIC’s presence in the ASEAN market. In 2022, SAIC-CP Motor sold around 3,2000 vehicles.
Thailand has recently introduced a series of policies to promote the growth of local NEV industry and build regional NEV manufacturing bases. Hence, Thailand’s NEV market is expected to soon enter a period of rapid growth. To take advantage of this situation and meet the burgeoning demand for NEVs around the world, SAIC-CP Motor has decided to land an industrial park in Chonburi. The park site will comprise standard manufacturing plants, warehouses, container yards, power generation facilities, and other kinds of supporting infrastructure such as roads, street lightings, wafer pipes, sewage pipes, parking lots, etc. Besides SAIC, many other companies that are involved in the manufacturing of the components for NEVs and other new energy applications have expressed interest in setting up shop at the park site.
SAIC has been making big strides in the Li-ion battery industry over the recent years. Notably, on April 17 of this year, SAIC’s subsidiary Shanghai New Power Automotive Technology has successfully set up a production line for NEV power batteries. The production came online and output its first batch of products.
The first phase of the battery manufacturing base operated by Shanghai New Power Automotive Technology has a production capacity of 3GWh per year. The production lines the base output battery packs for a wide range of applications. Furthermore, there are 16 robots that can adjust production flows and thereby allowing many different combinations of products. The production lines for battery modules, in particular, have attained an automation rate of 70%. As for the production lines for battery packs, they do not adopt the traditional roller conveyor system. Instead, they have 22 AGVs that serve as miniature production stations. Hence, the production lines for battery packs are highly flexible and can be modified into various configurations. SAIC said the next phase of the development will have the subsidiary offer more product lines so as to meet the demand from commercial vehicles.
Shanghai New Power Automotive Technology is going to focus on the market for battery modules and packs for electric commercial vehicles. The subsidiary is currently developing its own smart production lines and product testing lines. In other words, it is building its own products from scratch. This way, SAIC could achieve significant breakthroughs with respect to cost optimization, efficiency of R&D process, and self-sufficiency of components and materials.
Shanghai New Power Automotive Technology was formerly called Shanghai Diesel Engine. It was originally a state-owned company that began issuing A- and B-shares in the domestic stock market in 1993 after undergoing a reorganization program. In 2021, the company went through another major round of asset restructuring and was acquired by SAIC. As the original name suggests, the company was initially a manufacturer for diesel engines. Once it was placed under SAIC, it also took on heavy trucks as a core business.
Now, with more support from the sector fund, Shanghai New Power Automotive has transformed again and expanded into the supply chain for NEVs. The company is currently developing solutions related to electric vehicle motors, power batteries, hydrogen fuel cells, etc. By involving itself in these new areas, the company is expected to find new sources of profit growth.
This article is a translation of a Chinese article posted by TrendForce. It contains information that is either sourced from other news outlets or accessible in the public domain. Some Chinese names are transcribed into English using Hanyu Pinyin.