Mercedes-Benz and NSTDA Inked an MoU for Technology Transfer to Leverage Electric Vehicles and Lithium Battery Testing for the First Time in Thailand and ASEAN

Appointing NSTDA’s PTEC as Battery-Testing Laboratory for Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles with aim to start enhanced product validation testing for Mercedes-Benz within this year

2 August 2019, National Science and Technology Development Agency (Thailand) or “NSTDA” partnered up with Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing (Thailand) Limited., to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in research, development and technology transfer to support battery testing for electric vehicles. The collaboration has appointed NSTDA’s PTEC (Electrical and Electronic Products Testing Center) as the first electric vehicle battery testing laboratory in Thailand with mission to handle activities of establishing the country's quality infrastructure to support the automotive industry in the future. These activities include an establishment of a battery testing laboratory and autonomous vehicle testing laboratories. By targeting the use of battery testing lab facilities in Thailand, the organizations aim to develop knowledge and to sharpen skills of testing professionals in the country to meet the policy standard for the modern automotive industry, as well as to develop the production base of batteries in Thailand in order to align with international quality standards. 

Dr. Narong Sirilertworakul, President of National Science and Technology Development Agency (Thailand), revealed “Developing lithium batteries is one of the most challenging options because this type of battery provides long-lasting storage. Its advantages of being lightweight and rechargeable had prompted every automotive manufacturers from America, Europe, Japan, China and Thailand to enter the competition in developing a prolonged range of the battery from a single charge. However, since lithium which is the main component of the battery is a substance that reacts sensitively with oxygen, it may ignite easily. Therefore, the production process of lithium battery must be thoroughly controlled while correct usage and effective maintenance and care must be promoted. In many countries, the standards and regulations for lithium battery has been enforced in order to protect drivers and passengers by providing more secure measures. Companies need to demonstrate utmost safety of the battery for consumer awareness through product certification marks. Various processes to ensure safety are carried out in testing laboratories, as well as factory inspection and random market audits to control standard quality. These are considered important costs for domestic battery entrepreneurs who need to ship their large-sized electrical vehicle batteries to be inspected in overseas laboratories. All the more, the export of batteries from Thailand is still considered a big hassle as it involves law compliance to several transport regulations by roads, aboard the ships and by air. Battery manufacturers also need to comply with each country’s specific rules and regulations, facing countless obstacles and mounting their investment in the testing processes.”

“NSTDA realized these difficulties and aimed to support the Government’s policy to focus on the establishment of National Quality Infrastructure: NQI, in order to leverage Thailand as a potential country for the modern industry investment and advanced technology, in lined with the New-S Curve and the Industry 4.0 era. NSTDA has appointed its Electrical and Electronic Products Testing Center or PTEC as a battery testing laboratory at the cellular module and battery pack levels, along with the establishment of the first fully- integrated unmanned automotive testing laboratory in Thailand. These facilities will carry out tests of performance testing for charge/discharge to estimate the battery’s lifetime and long battery life warranty, battery safety testing when drowning occurs from road flooding situations and falling into the water, battery safety test when driving on a dirt, dusty road in Thailand, testing the working condition of the battery under the instantaneous temperature change from instant heat to cold for export purpose, battery operation test by simulating vibration, shock, when driving on rough roads, falling in the pond on the road, falling down the path’s shoulder, as well as bumping on the semis,” Dr. Narong further elaborated.

The laboratories at NSTDA’s PTEC will be a crucial facility to fuel the new domestic energy industry in the country. Mercedes-Benz will not only develop batteries used for the electric vehicles, but also for the reserve of energy for residents, factories and power plants. By having an international standard laboratory in Thailand, they can save up the investment from test fees and transportation costs of batteries. Moreover, they can solve the problem of battery products that are not up to the design specifications. Most importantly, domestic manufacturers will not have to face many international legal problems before they commence the production for export in large quantities.

For more than 20 years, NSTDA had established myriads of testing laboratories to provide services in product analyses and testing with international standards. To name a few, Mercedes-Benz has testing labs for electric vehicles, food safety analysis, performance and safety testing of Nano- products, as well as medical device testing. They aim to support the development of various business mechanisms, including tax, training, and research linkage while building on innovation to commercial success. Mercedes-Benz creates acceptance in government procurement accounts and receiving high technology transfer from abroad in order to develop domestic industries, both SMEs and Start-ups. These operations require recipients, who can adapt and adjust to suit the working context of businesses to drive the domestic economy further in the future.

Mr. Andreas Lettner, CEO of Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing (Thailand) Limited says, “To prepare for mobility of the future and progress towards our vision to be the zero-emission automobile brand, Mercedes-Benz has consistently developed numerous eco-friendly technologies, including the ongoing transition from internal combustion engines to electric motors. In Thailand, Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing has started production of EQ Power plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) under the EQ technology brand since 2015 and currently has six PHEV models in production, including the C-, E- and S-Class models. In addition to PHEV production, we launched our project to set up Mercedes-Benz’s sixth global battery production base in Thailand last year in partnership with Thonburi Automotive Assembly Plant. The new battery factory will step up our Thai production in response to the government’s policy to promote electric vehicles, and to cope with the region’s increasing demands for electric vehicles. This reaffirms our commitment to Thailand, reassuring that our Thai manufacturing operations will have the most cutting-edge technologies readily available for electric mobility, especially battery electric vehicles (BEVs).”

“Availability of technologically-advanced battery is vital to electric vehicle production. Besides production processes that must live up to the high standards of Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing, these batteries must be tested and verified by a world-class testing centre because an extensive testing process will assure to us that every battery in Mercedes-Benz vehicles will provide optimum performance and utmost safety to the drivers and occupants.”

“As a new milestone towards our zero-emission vision, Mercedes-Benz today signs a memorandum of understanding with Thailand’s National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), our first partner in Southeast Asia to work together in the transfer of electric vehicle and lithium-ion battery technologies. NSTDA’s Electrical and Electronic Products Testing Center (PTEC) will be commissioned as the battery testing laboratory for electric vehicle batteries from Mercedes-Benz’s Thai production. The testing will start with PHEV batteries that will begin production this year. Lab facilities will also be set up for BEV battery testing to support future demands for BEVs. By working together in the research and technology transfer, this partnership will raise the profile of the Thai battery testing centre with standards on par with its world-class peers. Besides, the knowledge and skills development opportunity brought by this partnership will equip local test technicians with greater competency from their exposure to the more advanced technologies than those in conventional parts and components, which contribute to future development of the Thai automotive industry at large.” ended Mr. Lettner.