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.