BMW Group Thailand has officially opened a high voltage battery factory in partnership with the Draexlmaier Group, a supplier to the automaker since 1966.

Production began in July 2019 at the Draexlmaier plant in WHA Chonburi Industrial Estate 2.

The plant is assembling both battery modules and the battery itself.

Uwe Quaas, managing director of BMW Group Manufacturing Thailand said: “One of the pillars of the group’s global strategy is electrification and [we are] underlining its commitment to this mission by taking another big step forward in our electromobility strategy. The start of local battery production enables us to better respond to growing domestic demand for electrified vehicles in Thailand. This new capability also strengthens the performance of [Thai car assembly] Plant Rayong in fulfilling the country’s mission of sustainable mobility.”

Engineers from BMW’s Munich plant were involved at the new Thai facility throughout the set-up process.

Some Thai Draexlmaier Group workers participated in a battery production training programme at BMW’s Dingolfing plant which specialises in e-drive production, and at the group pilot plant for e-drivetrains in Munich.

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Battery production technology includes laser welding, plasma activation, robotics, glueing, automated optical and electrical inline quality inspection along with end of line testing. The training also focused on supporting a highly automated process, which is an important part of battery module production, as well as comprehensive quality assurance, product methodology and technology, rework, and analysis.

The staff assemble battery cells provided by “a supplier in the Asian region” along with other imported parts – such as aluminium housing, electronics, and cables – into high-voltage batteries that comply with Thailand’s local content regulations.

Complete packs are shipped to Rayong for installation in 5 Series PHEVs, which entered Thai assembly in July 2019.

So far the Thai plant, which also assembles Mini models, has built four different PHEV variants.

BMW Group Thailand earlier received incentives from Thailand’s Board of Investment (BoI) for a THB700m (US$22.85m) outlay on PHEV production and the joint investment in this battery assembly plant is worth THB500m.