Australian solar energy company, Star8 International, yesterday opened its first showroom in Cambodia, near the Phnom Penh International Airport.
The company factory, located 15 minutes away from the new showroom, has been manufacturing a range of solar powered products – from tuk-tuks to buses and solar tiling – since it first opened 18 months ago.
According to Jacob Maimon, chief executive of Star8, the company has invested between $8 million and $9 million in Cambodia and produces about 200 to 300 vehicles a month.
“My goal is to sell 1,000 vehicles per month, and eventually I want to take over the whole [motor] industry, where in the next five years there will only be solar on the road,” he said.
Maimon said that Star8 products appealed to the environmentally conscious consumers, and Cambodia provided an ideal market for his company to launch from.
“The reason we decided to do [business] in Cambodia is because the roads are very tough, the sun is very good, and if our cars and vehicles can run here, they can run anywhere in the world,” Maimon said.
The Star8 chief declined to comment on current sales, other than to say the firm had received a “very positive reaction” from both the public and private sectors.
Speaking at the showroom launch yesterday, the Australian ambassador to Cambodia, Alison Burrows, said that other Australian companies would hopefully follow in the footsteps of Star8.
“I think that Star8 has done a great job in getting this up from the beginning in quite a new area, and I expect other Australian companies to do that,” she said.
“We are really looking for Australian companies taking advantage of the opportunities in the market here and of getting into the regional value chains.”
Coca-Cola, which also has made recent investments in Cambodia, is working on a joint-initiative with Star8 in Cambodia.
Although the details of the deal are not yet finalised, the Post reported last year that Coke had offered to initially subsidise the cost of some of the new tuk-tuks.
Lim Lina, public affairs and communications manager for Coca-Cola said yesterday that collaboration with Star8 allows her company to develop solutions that are sustainable.
“The imperative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions compels us to do business smarter — to work leaner and greener,” she said.
The Star8 showroom features solar tuk-tuks, motorbikes, cars and golf carts, but the company also has plans for solar buses in Siem Reap as part of a joint venture with Cambodian conglomerate Sou Ching group.
The buses will provide transportation along five routes, ferrying tourists from the Sou Ching port to destinations including Angkor Wat, the old market and Pub Street.
They will begin testing the buses next month, the company confirmed.