Malaysia's Detik Benua Company and Spiral Circuit Co (Malaysia) plan to invest THB 20 billion (US$575m) over the next three years in a new plant in Thailand to manufacture electric drives for hybrid and electric vehicles.

Spiral Circuit is Johnson Electric's ASEAN distributor, supplying mostly electric motors for automotive applications such as windows, air conditioning, central locking systems and windscreen wipers. Detik Beuna is a Malaysian finance company.

The two partners are in the process of establishing a wholly-owned subsidiary called Spiral Circuit Co (Thailand), to be headed by Max Tan - Executive Director of Spiral Circuit Co (Malaysia). "We have teamed up with world-class technology experts in hybrid motors" says Mr Tan. "Thailand has plenty of skilled and semi-skilled workers, especially in automotive contract manufacturing".

Production is scheduled to start in 2009. The company also plans to team up with local automotive manufacturers to produce hybrid vehicles - mainly for public transport applications. Earlier this year, Toyota said it will produce hybrid versions of the Camry in Thailand at a rate of around 9,000 units per year.

Separately IMCC - the Thai importer of electric vehicles and parts - plans to raise over THB 500 million in an initial public offering (IPO) and list on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) in mid-2009.

The company plans to use the funds to set up a plant in Thailand to supply electric vehicles to markets in the ASEAN region. The facility will have a capacity to make 100 units per day. At present, 85% of its revenue comes from the golf-cart segment, but the company plans to diversify into other markets, such as neighbourhood and resort public transport.

Tony Pugliese