Hybrid cars for Cambodia

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Photo by: Sovan Philong
Nhean Pholet working on his mini-car last year. Cambodian firm Heng Development is using a similar model to build mini hybrid electric cars.
Phnom Penh Post
Cambodian business Heng Development Co Ltd is planning to invest up to US$20 million to build a car factory to manufacture hybrid electric vehicles, according to a company director.

Seang Chan Heng, general director of Heng Development, claimed the company was forming a joint venture with a German firm to support the new project, but declined to name the partner until the official launch.

Construction of the factory was expected to begin next month on a 20-hectare plot of land in Kandal Strung, 20 kilometres south of Phnom Penh, and would be finished within six months, she told The Post Wednesday.

“We hope that this new auto-maker factory will be able to produce mini-cars for sale in local and international markets,” she said.

The company has two mini-passenger car models – a two-seater and a four-seater.

Nhean Pholet, a well-known mini-car maker in Cambodia, has been employed by Heng Development, which until now has only sold and distributed tractors, cement and land.

He said the company’s mini-car model will follow the models that he previously produced himself, including the finger-print-scanner doors which can recognise 60 finger prints and use an electronic card, instead of a metal key, to start the engine.

“We are motivated by many consumers with our new car design and hope that we will be able to produce more cars for sale in the future,” he said.

Seang Chan Heng said the factory would employ about 300 workers and produce up to 1,000 plug-in electric hybrid vehicles in the first year, using parts imported from Germany, Japan and Hong Kong.

The starting price for the final product would be about US$5,000 for the two-seater in the local market.

She was confident there would be demand for the cars and expected the first batch would be ready for purchase in 2012.

“Our partners have already ordered about 1,000 vehicles from us, so we aren’t worried about having a market for our products,” she said.

Heng Sophorn, director of the Department of Industry at the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy, said on Wednesday he welcomed the establishment of the factory, highlighting that it signaled progress in Cambodia’s industry sector.

“We highly appreciate this kind of car production because it doesn’t only reduce cost, but it also helps to reduce the impact on the environment,” he said, adding that it was the first of its kind in Cambodia.

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