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NEWS UPDATES 6 July 2010

Mitsubishi in Thailand expansion

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Mitsubishi Motors Corporation has announced a plan to invest 15 billion baht in a new eco-car manufacturing plant in Chon Buri, scheduled for completion over the next two years.

The outlay includes the cost of land near its existing factory in Laem Chabang, according to Mitsubishi becomes the third automaker in the past two weeks to announce a major expansion, following Ford Motor and Toyota Motor, further stimulating an industry that has been recovering steadily after last year's slump triggered by the global financial crisis. The new investment will be Mitsubishi Motors' largest ever in Thailand and the new plant will be its largest facility outside Japan.

''Thailand is the leading country in the region with the highest potential in car manufacturing. [The] government's consistent policy for the automobile industry plays an important role in the development of the Thai automotive sector,'' said president Osamu Masuko, who attended the ceremony yesterday to celebrate Mitsubishi Motors' achievement of 2 million vehicles made in Thailand.

The new facility will be capable of producing up to 200,000 units per year and will begin manufacturing the small, environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient eco-cars on the new platform in 2012 for both domestic and export markets as part of Mitsubishi Motors' global small car project.

''This does not mean that all small-car production will be shifted to Thailand once the new eco-car plant in Thailand commences,'' said Mr. Masuko.

Initially, about 50,000 eco-cars per year will be produced.

Up to 70 percent of the plant's output will be for markets outside Thailand, especially Asean where the Japanese automaker plans to cash in on the free trade area scheme.

''We are considering a plan to export Thai-built eco-cars back to Japan,'' said Mr. Masuko. The new project has the potential to support up to 3,000 new jobs, as well as thousands of indirect jobs through suppliers.

Ford Motor announced late last month it would invest US$450 million in a new plant in Rayong to produce 150,000 passenger vehicles for both domestic and export sales beginning with the new model of Ford Focus compact sedan.

Toyota Motor Thailand plans to invest 4 billion baht to expand its plant in Chachoengsao to 200,000 units per year from 120,000 as the current capacity could not cope with the rising demand at home and abroad.

The plant currently produces pickup trucks and passenger pickup vehicles (PPV) under its international innovative multi-purpose scheme.

Mitsubishi Motors currently runs two plants in Thailand, producing Lancer and Lancer EX sedans, Space Wagon multi-purpose vehicles, Triton pickup trucks and Pajero Sport PPVs for the local market, while Triton and Pajero Sport models are exported to more than 140 countries.

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