You may have seen it cruising down the street – all smooth curves and space-age doors. While it might look like a vision of the future – or maybe something imported from Japan – the electric Angkor EV 2013 is made right here in Cambodia.
Designed by local innovator Nhean Phalloek, the car is Cambodia’s first electric vehicle.
“Almost all the parts of Angkor Car are originally produced and made by myself, including the body, appearance, finger-scanning system to open the door, and drive care, etc,” he said. “Even the steal melting and fusing were done by me.”
It was a labour of love, the young automaker added. “I want to promote Cambodian products and achievements.”
But Phalloek is hardly alone. He’s one of a growing number of young Cambodian innovators with enough vision and grit to make their dreams a reality.
Hor Sophanna, 23, is the founder of Arrowdot technology team, specialising in electronic automation and telecommunication engineering. He and his team have designed and produced several robots, including World-E, which is controlled via tablet or smartphone, and Magic House, in which a house’s lights are controlled by robot.
For the engineer, necessity really is the mother of invention. “Most of the equipment we’ve used to produce robots is bought in Cambodia, some online and some more we took from old household electronics.”
Sophanna added, “The robots were originally produced and created by our group. Each of us gains nothing for the work. In fact, we put our own money, energy and time into these robots.”
The young innovators are a new generation. Game producer Ear Uy noted, “Years before, there was no game originally produced by Cambodian people.”
While some young people go it on their own, others are supported by organisations, universities and local enterprises. Pann Linath, lecturer at the National Polytechnic Institute of Cambodia, said, “Generally, the National Polytechnic Institute of Cambodia prepares a package of money to support any project or study that is precise and has a lot of advantages to society.”
He added, “I believe that some day in the future, we will be able to build at a very high capacity – just like people in other countries. If young people have the talent and drive, they can create something new and valuable to society again and again.”
Seang Chanheng, general director of Heng Development Company, said her firm had invested a generous sum in the Angkor EV 2013, and is planning a production facility in Kandal province.
“Besides loving and supporting products produced and made by Cambodian people, building a factory and running the production is meant to push other Cambodian people, especially youth, to pursue technological advances and create many other new things that are of benefit to themselves and society.”