Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend.

According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration certificate to Onion Mobility Co Ltd’s $20 million electric motorbike and auto-rickshaw assembly plant in Kandal province’s Suvannaphum Special Economic Zone (SSEZ), which is expected to generate 380 jobs.

Onion Mobility is a subsidiary of South Korean-owned MVLLABS Pte Ltd (MVL), the company behind the TADA app, Southeast Asia’s first blockchain-based zero-commission ride-hailing service which operates in Cambodia as MVL TADA (Cambodia) Co Ltd.

MVL TADA Cambodia general manager Chim Poly told The Post on February 15 that the company has reserved a number of buildings at SSEZ.

With CDC approval now in hand, the company is speeding up construction of the production line for the Kingdom’s first locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws and will soon import components for installation – mostly from South Korea, he said, stressing that a fraction were locally-made.

“We hope the electrical auto-rickshaw assembly plant will start production in early May,” he said, adding that motorbikes would be assembled at a later phase of the project’s development.

He claimed that the project will not only provide Cambodians with the three-wheelers at a lower cost than their petrol-powered counterparts, but will also support environmental protection.

Onion Mobility’s products will be equipped with high-powered batteries that must be replaced at charging stations that the company is setting up, Poly said.

Locations will be limited to Phnom Penh in the first phase, but will be extended to the provinces soon after, he said.

The company will aim to keep pace with domestic demand during the first phase of the plant’s operations and expand production for export to neighbouring countries in subsequent phases, he added.

Kandal provincial Department of Commerce director Orm Bunthoeun welcomed the venture, saying that the province’s geographical location and economic growth had lured in a slew of new domestic and foreign investment projects as of late.

Noting that the plant does not fall under his jurisdiction, he said the project would undeniably provide a considerable boon for the people of Kandal. “When there is an investment project, job opportunities are also created simultaneously,” he said.

MVL also has operations in Vietnam and Singapore.