Thursday, December 13, 2012

5-yr auto plan aims for top-10 ranking

THE NATION reports:

The third master plan for the Thai automobile sector has been drawn up, alongside a study of long-term development of the industry with a view to establishing the Kingdom as one of the world's key manufacturing hubs by increasing production from 2.3 million units this year to 5.6 million units by 2050.

The Thailand Automotive Institute's five-year master plan for 2012-2016 is focused on increasing output by an average of 10 per cent annually.

The plan is also aimed at making the country one of the top 10 auto-manufacturing nations within the same time scale and increasing the use of local content in the industry from 40 per cent now to 50 per cent.

In addition, the institute's long-term development goal is to increase production step by step over the next several decades. Targeted output is 3.3 million units in 2020, rising to 4.5 million units by 2030, 5 million units by 2040, and 5.6 million units in 2050.

Witoon Simachokedee, permanent secretary of the Industry Ministry, said yesterday that the plan would be submitted to the industry minister for approval soon.

If successful, the plan will enable the Kingdom to achieve value creation and sustainable growth of the auto industry as it focuses on becoming a global manufacturing hub.

Under the plan, manufacturing will concentrate on development in four areas: "green" vehicles, using alternative energy such as biodiesel, ethanol and compressed natural gas; light-weight cars with a high standard for energy saving; autos equipped with information technology to facilitate driving; and high-safety manufacturing in all vehicles types - passenger cars, trucks and motorcycles.

Witoon said there would be no "product champion" concept as there had been in the two previous master plans, which focused on pickup and eco-car manufacturing, respectively.

Instead, the new plan will concentrate all vehicles that can use a variety of energy sources, notably hybrids and electric vehicles, in line with the global manufacturing trend of the industry. The forecast is that both hybrid and electric cars will be much more popular by 2020.

Patima Jeerapaet, president of the Thailand Automotive Institute, said the plan focused on five key development areas: technology and research and development; the excellence of skilled labour, and human-resources development; strengthening the competitiveness of manufacturers; encouraging a good environment from basic infrastructure upward; and the setting up of a policy-steering committee for the auto and auto-parts industry.

The government should encourage the establishment of an auto-testing centre in Thailand, which would be used as the testing centre for Asean, said Patima.

Thailand has agreed with other Asean countries to develop such a test and R&D centre. The proposal is being studied by the National Economic and Social and Development Board.

The centre would require an investment of Bt8.1 billion, with construction divided into two phases. The first phase, for a standard-testing centre worth Bt3.2 billion on 200 rai of land close to a deep-sea port and automotive and parts manufacturing plants in the East of the country, would be completed by 2015.

The second phase, costing Bt4.9 billion, would focus on a centre for product testing and an R&D facility for new products, including parts.

Monday, December 10, 2012

CHINA DAILY: SAIC and Charoen Pokphand Group form Thai joint venture

Moving to tap markets in Southeast Asia, China's largest automaker SAIC Motor Corp recently agreed to form a joint venture with Charoen Pokphand Group to produce its MG cars in Thailand.

The Shanghai-listed automaker said in a statement last week that it will have a 51 percent stake in the planned joint venture, and CP Group, the biggest conglomerate in Thailand, will hold the remaining 49 percent.

With initial investment of 1.8 billion yuan ($290 million), the joint venture is set to start production in 2014. It will have an annual production capacity of 50,000 vehicles at the outset, which could increase to 200,000.

It is the first SAIC joint venture with a foreign partner to produce its own brand passenger vehicles overseas, part of the company's efforts to greatly boost its foreign deliveries to 800,000 vehicles a year by 2015.

SAIC said that it also plans to export the Thailand-made MG to other Southeast Asian markets and some countries elsewhere that use right-hand-drive vehicles.

Nanjing Automotive Co purchased UK auto group MG Rover in 2005 following its bankruptcy. SAIC later merged with Nanjing auto and now makes its own passenger vehicles under the Roewe and MG brands.

Thanks to its successful partnerships with GM and Volkswagen, SAIC has become the leading automaker in China, but it still lags behind smaller domestic counterparts such as Chery Automobile Co and Great Wall Motors in overseas businesses for wholly owned brands.

Though it has annual sales of some 4 million units, SAIC exported only about 60,000 vehicles last year, the majority of them are Chevrolets made with its joint venture partner General Motors. The exports also included a small number of MG cars assembled at SAIC's plant in the UK.

According to domestic media reports, SAIC also plans to bring its wholly owned commercial vehicle brand Maxus Datong to Thailand for local production when the time is right.

An important auto-manufacturing hub in Southeast Asia, Thailand produced a record high of more than 2 million vehicles in the first 11 months of the year, nearly half of them for export. The Thai Automotive Industry Club previously said that the nation's annual automobile output will hit 3 million in five years.

Japanese carmakers currently lead Southeast Asian markets with massive production facilities in both Thailand and Indonesia.

Check out the article here

Sunday, December 9, 2012

AFG looks into the future for the auto industry in Thailand

Doc Iain Corness reports in Pattaya Mail on our last AFG Meeting with Dr. Moser:

The November meeting for the Automotive Focus Group (AFG) saw an invitation extended to a Professor from the Swiss University of St Gallen, Dr. Roger Moser.

The University of St. Gallen is one of the foremost business universities in Europe and on a par-level with the very best institutions around the world and through Dr. Moser has conducted studies for the Chinese and Indian auto markets.

In China his research was done for business development for BMW, while the Indian study was for the aerospace consortium EADS.

Dr. Moser is currently conducting a study into our automotive future, called Thailand Automotive 2022.  At the meeting he shared the first trends and some interesting information about the methodology of this study.

Read the full article here
Download Dr Mosers presentation here