ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
First-car program upsets Ford
Ford Motor Co is objecting to the Thai government's first-time car buyer program, which caps engine sizes of 1,500cc for qualifying passenger sedans, could cost it as much as 6.1 billion baht in lost revenue.
The chief executive of the US carmaker outlined the company's concerns in a meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Alan Mulally submitted a letter saying the company's 1,600cc Fiesta compact would be unable to compete with similar models that qualified for tax rebates if the programme's conditions were not changed.
The letter indicated that 70 percent of the company's local customers bought Fiesta 1,600cc models and 40 percent of those were first-car buyers.
Based on previous data, the US carmaker estimated that 28 percent of its customers would fail to enjoy the benefits from the excise tax rebates.
The letter was also sent to Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong, Finance Minister Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala, and executives of the Board of Investment and the Excise Department.
The company maintains the Fiesta 1,600cc car is more energy-efficient than competing models with 1,500cc engines.
However, Ms. Yingluck insisted that the government would not change the maximum engine size for qualifying cars.
Deputy government spokeswoman Anuttama Amornwiwat said the premier told Mr. Mulally the Finance Ministry would seek other measures to keep Ford invested in Thailand.
Mr. Mulally told the premier that the company had a long history in Thailand and it had continued investing over the past three years despite Thailand's political uncertainties. Its cumulative investment in the country since 1985 totals US$2.5 billion.
Thailand is Ford's third largest production base in Asia-Pacific behind India and China. Ford sold 20,514 units in Thailand in the first eight months of this year.
Peter Fleet, president of Ford Asean, said he remained optimistic that Ford would be able to persuade the government to adjust the rules so the Fiesta could be included.
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