ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Honda doubling shifts in Thailand
Honda Automobile (Thailand) Co Ltd will add an extra work shift at its Ayutthaya plant to boost output this year to meet its higher sales target.
Atsushi Fujimoto, the president of Honda Automobile (Thailand) Co Ltd, shows off the new Honda Jazz yesterday. The car offers dual airbags and an anti-lock braking system on all models, making it the first subcompact to offer enhanced safety features for both driver and occupants. The Japanese carmaker plans to raise local sales by 27.2 percent from last year to 145,000 units including the Brio, an eco-car that will debut in the first quarter.
Honda predicts the overall automobile market will grow at a slower pace to 850,000 units this year from actual sales of 803,000 last year.
However, president Atsushi Fujimoto said the company's export volume would remain unchanged at 60,000 units, as the stronger baht is making exports less profitable.
Australia and Japan are the local Honda unit's main export markets.
To meet the combined sales forecast of 205,000 units, Honda will add a second work shift during the first half of this year to raise annual production from the present level of 120,000 to 130,000 units.
The Ayutthaya plant has a maximum annual capacity of 240,000 units. This year's expected higher sales will be contributed in part by the Brio eco-car, the City, the Jazz and the Civic.
Other models include the Accord and the CR-V, as well as the Freed mini-multipurpose vehicle, which is imported from Indonesia under the Asean Free Trade Area.
Honda does not make pickup trucks, the most popular vehicles sold in Thailand. Mr Fujimoto also reaffirmed that Honda has no plans at the moment to introduce hybrid models to match Toyota, which now markets two locally - the Camry and the Prius.
He is not yet certain whether petrol-electric models can do well locally, as sales of at least one of the Toyota hybrids have begun to flag.
Honda exports all of its hybrid Insight, Civic and Accord models produced in Thailand.
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