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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        24  March 2011

Bigger role for Ford in Thailand

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Ford Motor Co plans to launch eight new products in Asean over the next five years by using Thailand as its global production base, according to Joe Hinrichs, president for Asia-Pacific and Africa.

Starting with new Ford Ranger pickup truck introduced March 23 in Bangkok, Ford is signalling its quest for strong growth in Asean. The new Ranger will be built at the AutoAlliance Thailand plant in Rayong and will be unveiled at the Bangkok International Motor Show starting Friday .

Peter Fleet, the president of Ford Asean, said the company had invested substantially in Thailand as its production base. It is investing US$450 million to build its own factory to produce the Ford Focus compact, to be followed by other models.

Ford sold 15,365 vehicles in Thailand last year, taking a 1.7 percent market share, driven by the Fiesta subcompact.

Meanwhile, Ford is monitoring its supply chain following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan, said Joe Hinrichs, chief of Asian operations.

Ford has temporarily reduced overtime at AutoAlliance, its joint venture with Mazda, he said. The company imports several components from Japan, including batteries for gasoline-electric hybrid models such as the Fusion and Escape.

Mr Hinrichs said Ford aimed for a much higher market share in Asean than the 3 percent it has currently.

"Southeast Asia is a very important market for us with a large population and rising income," he said. "We see the Asean market growing substantially over the next decade."

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