Thursday, January 31, 2013

Nissan reaches 2-million-vehicle milestone

Via Bangkok Post:

Japanese auto-maker Nissan recently celebrated cumulative production of 2 million vehicles in Thailand at its plant in Samut Prakarn.

The new milestone was achieved in January.

"Thanks to the growing demand from satisfied customers, Nissan Motor Thailand has reached a new milestone," said NMT president Takayuki Kimura. "Business in Thailand has been growing at a steady yet astonishing pace - especially last year - making it the best year for the automotive industry. Nissan is one of the key brands contributing to this success. In reaching this milestone it truly shows the great results we have achieved.

"Making a further commitment to Thailand, Nissan announced last year that it's investing Bt11 billion more for our second plant on Bang Na Trad Road, Km 22, Samut Prakarn. It will initially produce 75,000 vehicles per year starting in August 2014, and this number will increase to 150,000 per year after full production is achieved," he said.

Nissan presently has a combined production capacity of 220,000 vehicles per year, he said. "But within a few years we plan to raise our capacity to 370,000 vehicles per year, thanks to the second plant."

Nissan has been producing vehicles since 1963 and presently offers seven key models. The auto-maker is the best-selling brand in the Thai eco-car segment with two models, the March and the Almera.

Challenges ahead for AAF's Thai chief

Via Bangkok Post:

Nissan Motor Thailand vice president for government relations Piengjai Kaewsuwan was unanimously elected new chairperson of the Asean Automotive Federation (AAF) for 2013-2014 at the AAF annual meeting on January 11 in Bangkok.

This is great news for Thailand, especially with the coming of the Asean Economic Community (AEC). It is expected that Thailand's strengths in the automotive industry will enable it to strengthen its leadership in Southeast Asia.

Last year, Thailand produced more than 2 million vehicles, with domestic sales reaching a record 1.4 million, thanks to the government's First Car Buyer Programme.

Apart from her position at Nissan, Piengjai is also president of the Thai Automobile Industry Association (TAIA). She had recently been elected president of the TAIA for a second term.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mazda will set up a new Powertrain Manufacturing facility in Thailand

Mazda will set up a new Powertrain Manufacturing facility in Thailand to produce and sell SkyActiv transmissions for Mazda vehicles with a capacity of 400,000 units/year. SOP will be second half of 2015.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Exports gearing up for 25% increase to $15bn this year

Via Bangkok Post

Auto parts shipments are expected to grow by at least 25% this year in line with the flourishing automotive industry.

The Thai Autoparts Manufacturers Association (Tapma) expects exports will total US$15 billion this year, up from $11-12 billion last year. "Prospects remain promising on the back of surging automobile and motorcycle production," said president Achana Limpaitoon.

Thailand's automotive industry enjoyed a bumper year in 2012, with vehicle production totalling 2.45 million units, up by 68.3% from 2011 and lifting Thailand to 10th place among global automobile producers.

Motorcycle production reached 3.14 million units, up by 6.57%.

The Federation of Thai Industries' automotive industry club said domestic automobile sales totalled 1.43 million vehicles last year, up by 80.9% from 2011, while motorcycle sales rose by 6.11% to 2.13 million.

This year, 2.5 million automobiles will be produced, up by 2%, with 1.4 million slated for domestic sales and 1.1 million for export.

Tapma said exports account for 48% of Thailand's auto parts industry.

Some 80% of export value stems from original-equipment manufacturing and the rest from the auto parts aftermarket.

Thailand is currently the top Asean auto parts exporter, mainly to Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brazil.

"Thai auto parts makers have more than 50 years' experience, but the mantle could shift to Indonesia once its automotive industry becomes fully developed," said Mrs Achana.

She recommends auto parts makers brace themselves for higher production costs induced mainly by the nationwide hike in the daily minimum wage to 300 baht at the start of the year.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Honda retains No 1 position in Dec car sales

Via Bangkok Post:

Japanese auto-maker Honda announced that it sold 20,463 passenger cars in December last year, achieving the No 1 sales position in the Thai car market for three consecutive months - from October to December 2012.
Honda's accumulated sales from January through December 2012 reached 171,208 vehicles, up 104 per cent over its 2011 sales figures. This is the highest sales in the company's history here - compared to the previous annual sales record of 114,056 vehicles achieved in 2010 - despite the fact that Honda managed full production for only nine months of 2012.

During the nine months after officially resuming full production at its Ayutthaya manufacturing plant (April to December), Honda reached a sales high of 168,473 vehicles. Sales grew at 213 per cent, or triple the sales figure in the same period in 2011 (53,871 vehicles) and twice the total overall market growth of 106 per cent. Honda enjoyed a market share of 30 per cent in the car segment during the same period.

The auto-maker's significant sales growth can be attributed to the launch of 10 new models, six of which qualified for the government's first-car tax rebate programme, resulting in the higher turnover, according to Honda Automobile (Thailand) executive vice president Pitak Pruittisarikorn.

The new Brio Amaze, which was recently launched, has received very positive customer feedback, generating orders for more than 20,000 of the eco-cars within five weeks of it being launched, he said.

"Last year was an important year and it was very meaningful for Honda. We had faced a flood crisis that obliged us to stop our production lines for more than five months. However, we were able to recover and resumed production in just three months. Since then, we moved aggressively in the market with a continuous delivery of new models to meet the demands of customers that have confidence in Honda and waited for our return. This was especially true for the Brio Amaze, with tremendous effort and hard work by everybody in all our departments to expedite its market debut five months ahead of schedule to meet the demands of customers who wanted to benefit from the Thai government's first-car tax rebate programme," he said. "The result of all this effort was Honda's continual sales growth, setting a record for the highest turnover and putting Honda in the No 1 sales position in Thailand's passenger car market segment during the last quarter of 2012. Last year was the year that Honda turned a crisis into an effort to struggle with an obstacle and return stronger."

"As for the market trend of 2013, the first half is the time to deliver cars to customers who placed orders before the Thai government's first-car tax rebate program ended in December 2012. The demand for models that were formerly under the first-car program may slow down, but demand for models in other segments will keep on growing, resulting from the launch of many new models by several carmakers. Also, with consumer confidence in the country's economic potential, Honda believes that the sales volume for Thailand 's overall car market in 2013 should be equal to or slightly lower than the 2012 record. Overall turnover is expected to be about 1.2 million units. Honda plans to continuously launch new models to meet all customer lifestyles and has set a sales target of over 200,000 units for 2013," he said.

"In addition, we will be focused on improving service quality to ensure the highest customer satisfaction. Honda currently has 166 service centers nationwide, which is expected to grow to 200 centers by late 2013. Honda remains committed to carrying on with our corporate social responsibility activities as the "Honda Thailand Fund" (or Honda Khiang Khang Thai Fund) that is poised to give a helping hand when major disasters take place. We strive to create value and be a company that society wants to exist," concluded Pitak.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

New Toyota plant to open this year

Via Bangkok Post:

Toyota, Thailand's biggest car maker, plans to invest 12 billion baht in a new factory at Gateway 2 in Chachoengsao, touting a new eco-car as the first model.

Domestic demand for new cars will moderate as the government’s first-time buyer scheme ends, according to Mr Tanada. SOMCHAI POOMLARD

The plant will be fully operational by the third quarter of 2013 and have an annual capacity of 300,000 units a year, said Kyoichi Tanada, president of Toyota Motor Thailand.

The new factory is an expansion of Toyota's existing plant at Gateway.

According to Mr Tanada, Toyota's first facility in Thailand at Samrong in Samut Prakan recently kicked off assembly of the Hiace Commuter High-Roof van, after a capital investment of 1.5 billion baht.

The output handled by Toyota Auto Works Co, formerly known as Thai Auto Works, will substitute imports. With 300 employees and one shift a day initially, production capacity will be increased by two shifts to 18,000 annually by midyear.

Toyota runs three plants in Thailand.

The Samrong facility makes Hilux Vigo pickup trucks, with a capacity of 240,000 units a year.

Gateway in Chachoengsao, Toyota's second plant, makes all passenger car models, with a capacity of 230,000 units a year.

The third factory, in Chachoengsao's Ban Pho district, makes Vigo and Fortuner passenger pickups, with a capacity of 230,000 units a year.

Toyota Motor Thailand expects sales of 900,000 units this year _ 500,000 locally and 400,000 for export.

In 2012, the company sold 516,086 vehicles in the domestic market, a 78% rise from 2011. Export sales totalled 405,892 vehicles, up nearly 62%, boosted by the tax rebate for first-time buyers.

The company aims to expand showrooms and service centres this year from 357 locations now to 400, with Toyota Sure showrooms rising from 85 to 100.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Thailand's 2013 auto sales may fall 16%...

RIDE ASIAONE translates a press release...

BANGKOK - Thai automotive industry sales look set to drop 16 per cent in 2013, retreating from a record 2012 boosted by government subsidies, Toyota Motor Corp's Thai unit said on Monday.

The group said it expected sales to decline to 1.2 million vehicles this year, after an 80 per cent surge in 2012 fuelled by government subsidies for buyers of first cars.

Industry sales had jumped to a record 1.43 million vehicles in 2012, also boosted by pent-up demand after severe flooding in late 2011, Kyoichi Tanada, president of the Toyota Motor Thai unit, told a news conference.

"Thai auto sales this year will not fall much from last year. We think the economy will still be good, but there is no first-car scheme this year," he said.

For Toyota itself, 2013 sales are set to fall 3.1 per cent to 500,000 units, giving it a 40 per cent market share, with sales of passenger cars down 11 per cent. It aims for exports of 412,000 vehicles worth 168 billion baht this year, plus 70 billion baht of auto parts.

In 2012, its auto sales jumped 78 per cent to 516,086 vehicles, with passenger cars up 62.8 per cent.

Toyota plans to invest 12 billion baht (S$495 million) in the southeast Asian country to build a second plant at the Gateway industrial park to produce environmentally friendly cars as well as vehicles for export, Tanada said.

The plant is expected to be completed in the middle of this year, which will help boost the firm's capacity at Gateway to 300,000 units per year from 220,000.

Toyota Thailand capacity increases to more than 1 Million units per year

Toyota Thailand will invest 12 billion baht in a new factory at Gateway 2 in Chachoengsao, with a new eco-car as the first model.

According to Kyoichi Tanada, president of Toyota Thailand, the plant will be fully operational by the third quarter of 2013 and have an annual capacity of 300,000 units which will bring Toyota Thailand's total capacity to over one million vehicles per year!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Bridgestone sets up R&D Centre in Bangkok

Bridgestone, yesterday announced plans to establish a new technical centre in Thailand costing 1.24 billion baht.

Located in the Bangkok suburbs, business operations are scheduled to begin in July.

The new centre is estimated to employ 100 staff by 2015.

It will carry out the functions of tyre development, tyre production technology and quality management for Asia-Pacific, previously handled in Japan.

With this shift, Bridgestone intends to establish a framework for research and development that will be able to reflect timely information from markets.

As markets in Asia continue to grow and diversify rapidly, Bridgestone believes strengthening its technical support will enable it to respond to customers' needs more quickly by raising its levels of safety, environmental awareness, quality and delivery capabilities.

Via Bangkok Post

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Chevrolet, part of US-based General Motors (GM), ended 2012 with record-breaking sales growth of 139% over 2011, thanks to the government's first-time car buyer scheme and strong post-flood demand.

The first-time car buyer scheme and strong post-flood demand carried Chevrolet to 139% sales growth in 2012, says Mr Apfel.

Some 75,461 Chevrolet cars were sold last year, higher than the combined 66,733 units sold from 2009 through 2011.

"2012 was a very good year for us as we launched three new models, expanded our dealership and surpassed our sales from 2009 to 2011," said Martin Apfel, president of GM's Southeast Asia operations.

The industry expanded 80% in 2012 to sell 1.4 million vehicles, of which Chevrolet gained a market share of 5.3%, up by 1.3% the year before. Mr Apfel cited the first-time car buyer scheme for helping to increase vehicle sales, while demand carried over from 2011.

Industry growth for 2013 is expected to be lower at 1.2 million units to be sold. Chevrolet targets a 3% rise to top 100,000 units, he said.

"We will not grow much as an industry [this year]. Exports should still exceed domestic sales," noted Mr Apfel, adding that competition will also intensify for products and services, but not prices.

The company will invest 1.5 billion baht to expand its dealer network to 120 by year-end from 93 in 2012.

To meet with increasing demand, Chevrolet has added more production shifts. It expects to hire 400 more staff this year, bringing total headcount to 6,000.

Mr Apfel said partnerships with technical colleges will be strengthened to provide a feeder pool of technicians to its dealers, currently facing a shortage.

Chevrolet will focus mainly on pickup truck and small car segments this year.

Pickup trucks, which accounted for 40-45% of Chevrolet's sales, are expected to post the strongest growth this year. The Colorado was the most popular non-Japanese one-tonne pickup truck last year, with sales of 37,310 vehicles or 295.5% higher than 2011.

While the daily minimum wage has increased, Mr Apfel said auto parts and energy make up a much larger share of production cost. The precise impacts of the wage hike on the industry will be known after a few months, he said.

GM sales in Asean grew 108% to 91,715 units last year, with high demand in Indonesia, Malaysia and Laos.

The company projects its manufacturing facility in Indonesia will reach full production in the first half of this year. Also, it will expand dealerships in Cambodia and see its first car sale in Myanmar this year.

Via Bangkok Post

2013 new cars

Take a look at up-coming cars of 2013: from below 1 million-baht to above 10-million-baht ranges.

Check out the full range at Bangkok Post

Mazda wants to sell 80,000 units in 2013

The Thai unit of Japan's Mazda Motor expects to lift sales by another 10% this year after posting record sales of 73,764 units in 2012, helped by the government's first-time car buyer scheme.

New models and limited editions will be launched each quarter, says Mr Yuki.

Choichi Yuki, managing director of Mazda Sales (Thailand), said the company is aiming for total sales of 80,000 units this year.

"The company saw an excellent performance in 2012, increasing 76% from 41,980 units the year before. The Thai automobile market, meanwhile, was able to achieve record sales of almost 1.42 million units, equivalent to a growth of 79%," he said.

"The growth does not stop there. This will be a year of intense competition and auto sales are expected to exceed the 1-million-unit mark for the second time with a total of 1.2-1.3 million units."

The 2013 company sales target will be made up of 60% passenger cars and 40% pick-up trucks, which is a highly challenging market for all carmakers in Thailand and domestic demand may not grow.

However, Mazda plans to raise its market share to 6-7% this year from 5.2% in 2012, he added.

Moreover, the company will introduce an additional 20 showrooms and service centres nationwide. This will give a total of 165 showrooms compared to 145 last year.

"We are planning to launch new models including limited editions in every quarter of 2013, supported by design and technology such as the Mazda 3 S Plus, which was introduced at the Motor Expo 2012, and the Mazda 2 Special. The new fuel-saving technology, SkyActiv, will be launched this year," said Mr Yuki.

Marketing director Sureethip La-Ongthong Chomthongdee said Mazda has backlog orders of around 21,500 units from 2012 to be delivered within a couple of months. But the Mazda 2, the top passenger car model, may take more than three months to be delivered.

However, the company has already increased the production at its Rayong factory to the maximum level of 4,500 passenger cars and 2,700 pick-ups to meet orders.

"After we have cleared all back orders, the demand for passenger cars may slow in the second half. The pick-up truck market will see stronger competition among automakers than last year, but every market segment will return to normal," she said.

Mazda will spend 600-700 million baht on marketing activities this year, especially for advertisements touting major sales promotion campaigns such as its free maintenance programme for two years.

Via Bangkok Post

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

INDONESIA: Vehicle sales rise 25% in 2012

New vehicle sales in Indonesia increased by 11.4% to 89,456 units in December, from 80,325 units a year earlier, according to data released by local industry association Gaikindo.

Full year sales rose by almost 25% to a new record of 1,116,230 units, from 894,164 units in 2011, with increased borrowing and strong domestic economic growth driving sales ever higher.

Interest rates are at record lows at present, with the Bank Indonesia overnight lending rate at 5.75% and with commercial banks offering further discounted rates.

Via JustAuto

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Malaysia: Toyota set to overtake Proton

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 — At its peak, four of every five cars sold in Malaysia was a Proton, but the carmaker is now in danger of slipping into third spot in sales behind Toyota and Perodua, the second national car company that has ruled the roost for over six years.
Industry sources told The Edge newspaper in an article published today that Proton saw its market share slip in December 2012 to just 17.7 per cent, with Toyota now a close third at 17.1 per cent share of passenger vehicle sales in the country.

“Perodua (Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd) is the runway market leader while Proton over the last few years has been a strong second. Now Toyota is closing in on Proton’s position,” an unnamed executive told the financial daily.

Proton is controlled by Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary’s DRB-Hicom.

Industry executives told the financial daily that Proton’s sales fell by over 11 per cent to 140,000 units from 158,000 units a year earlier, missing the company’s target of 200,000 units by a wide margin.

Proton was established by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1983 and became a poster child of the former prime minister’s industrialisation policies.

Dr Mahathir had made it patriotic to buy a Proton, but the company has seen its sales slump in the last decade due to increasing liberalisation of the Malaysian market.

In the early days, Protons were rebadged models from technical partner Mitsubishi’s older range, which provided a solid foundation for the fledgling automaker but also limited its ability to innovate.

It later succeeded in developing its own vehicle platforms independent of the Japanese carmaker but has since gone back to the practice of rebadging with the Inspira, which is based on the Mitsubishi Lancer.

Malaysians were also unhappy with being able to afford only Protons as a result of protectionist taxes and duties meant to shield the carmaker in its early years but later became indefinite.

The backlash following the relaxation of vehicle import and local assembly rules saw buyers abandon the local manufacturer for the increasingly abundant range of foreign makes.

According to The Edge, Proton’s lack of new models bar one for 2013 will also put it under added pressure this year, given the growingly competitive market.

Via Malaysia Insider

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Honda, 10 other companies get post-flood financial support

Via the NATION:

Honda Automobile (Thailand) is one of 11 companies that have won financial support from the government's post-flood investment rehabilitation fund.

Honda, which shut down its manufacturing plant in Ayutthaya for six months, won Bt2.5 billion in support for its engine-manufacturing project with capacity of 440,000 units a year. At the site, Honda churns out 240,000 vehicles per annum.

According to Industry Minister Prasert Boonchaisuk, the sub-committee tasked with rehabilitation investment has approved 32 flood-rehabilitation projects in Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani worth Bt27.96 billion. It has also approved financial support to seven new investment projects worth Bt3.5 billion.

The financial support has covered only one relocation of a manufacturing plant: that of TAC Consumer, which is investing Bt6.85 million to produce 2,250 tonnes of feed meal per annum.

The other beneficiaries are: Imasen Manufacturing (Thailand), which will maintain its factory in Ayutthaya to manufacture parts and accessories for car seats at a cost of Bt420.2 billion, and with capacity to produce about 12.9 million units per year; Dionys Hofmann (Thailand), which will invest Bt27.8 million in rehabilitating its factory for manufacturing wheel-balancing equipment in Ayutthaya with annual capacity to produce 25 million units per year; AAPICO Hitech Tooling, which will rehabilitate its molding and parts factory in Ayutthaya at a cost of Bt209.3 million, and to have annual capacity of about 550 million tonnes; Honda Automobile (Thailand), which will maintain its factory for plastic automobile parts in Ayutthaya, at a cost of Bt202.6 million with capacity of 444,000 units per year; AAPICO Hitech Parts, which will invest Bt199.6 million in maintaining its factory for auto-pump parts and hard-disk drives in Ayutthaya with annual capacity of 80 million pieces; Tohoku Pioneer (Thailand), which will invest Bt60 million to maintain its molding and parts factory in Ayutthaya with 6,100 units in annual capacity; and Summit Auto Body Industry which will maintain its metal door and window frame factory in Ayutthaya at a cost of Bt27.6 million and with annual capacity of about 600,000 sets.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

THE NATION: Optimistic carmakers look to exports for another good year

The outlook for the Thai auto industry in 2013 remains bright, partially propelled by the demand from export markets.

Last year the industry attracted more than Bt100 billion in terms of additional investment from auto and auto-parts makers. Sales surged by 70 per cent to achieve a record 1.4 million vehicles, thanks to demand carried over from flood-stricken 2011 and the first-car-buyer programme. More than a million people received excise tax rebates a year after making their purchase.

This year's auto production is targeted at 2.5 million units, said Suparat Sirisuwannangkura, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI)'s Automotive Industry Club (AIC), with about 1.3-1.4 million for the domestic market.

"The reason sales will remain at the same level as 2012 is because there is a large amount of back orders carried over from 2012 - as many as 500,000 vehicles covering the third quarter of 2013. However, we also predict that as much as 30 per cent of the orders from the first-car-buyer scheme may disappear because some applicants may not pass the requirements and some may not have true purchasing power," Suparat said.

In this regard, the export market is expected to support the industry.

"Don't forget that in 2012 we held back exports to supply the domestic market. So it should not be difficult to achieve 2.5-million-unit production while also maintaining the export market," he said.

Check out the full report here.