MoU on R&D centre for clean energy cars inked

National 2 minutes, 44 seconds

NANNING, CHINA

A CHINESE company will set up a research and development (R&D) centre for clean energy vehicles in Brunei following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Brunei government.

Wang Zhong, president of Shenglong New Energy Automobile Co Ltd, said the centre — valued at $20 million when completed — will conduct research into battery technology and electronic systems needed for electric cars.

“The purpose (of the MoU) is to support our clean energy-powered vehicles’ production. China is quite advanced in this field but in order to remain competitive, we need to move our R&D centre to Brunei to support the car production business,” said the company president.

Speaking to The Brunei Times on the sidelines of the Fourth Forum on China-ASEAN Technology Transfer and Collaboration Innovation in Nanning, he said the plan is for the R&D centre to be up and running in a year and provide opportunities for local researchers.

“Initially, the research team will mainly consist of the current researchers we already have in China, most of whom were previously working at Ford (the American automobile company) but because of the need for engineers, our researchers are from a multinational background.

“However, we would definitely need local participation. Bruneian chemical or electrical engineers who want to be part of the R&D team, for example, we can send them for training in China,” he added.

The president said his Guangxi-based company has extensive capabilities and experiences in manufacturing electric vehicles and is forming the new entity to support its potential projects in Brunei.

Wang said Brunei was chosen for its new research base because of the country’s political stability and low level of corruption in the public sector.

“In addition, the interchangeable rate with the Singaporean currency is favourable for us and more importantly, all the government agencies and ministers we have been dealing with were supportive and efficient during discussions,” he said.

“Though Brunei is small in market size, but as part of the ASEAN community, it has access to a large market which we are targeting,” he added.

Wang said other positive characteristics of the country contributed to his company’s decision to invest in Brunei.

“Although Brunei’s economy is stable and the income is high for its population size, industry in Brunei has yet to take off so we want to bring in the advanced technologies which we hope to boost the local economy and capabilities,” he said.

“The education system is also very good in Brunei as a lot of its people are highly educated and that will support our R&D in the future when we want to consolidate the company’s R&D in Brunei to ensure all R&D in the company can grow at the same pace,” he said.

In a statement, the Energy and Industry Department at the Prime Minister’s office said the MoU was a result of previous visits made between delegations from Brunei and Guangxi, headed by Deputy Minister of Finance Dato Paduka Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah and the Chinese minister of technology.

The MoU yesterday was signed by Wang and Head of Foreign Direct Investment Promotion at the Brunei Economic Development Board Harris Ibrahim.

The Brunei Times