Thailand claims fastest-growing market for Ford

Thailand is the fastest-growing market for Ford Motor Co, and the US carmaker plans to continue expanding its local business through new product launches and dealership expansion.

"Thai customers are smart. They look for new technology. Through our convenient dealership network - an area where Toyota has a competent footprint - it is exciting to see Ford compete with Toyota," said James Farley, Ford's group vice-president for global marketing, sales and service.

Ford Sales & Service (Thailand) sold 29,200 units last year, up by 114% from 2010, making it one of the fastest-growing car brands in the country.

Dongfeng Motor Corporation reported growth of 127% in Thailand in 2011, selling 1,562 units compared with 688 units in 2010.

Toyota will sell an estimated 450,000 vehicles in Thailand this year.

Mr Farley did not disclose this year's sales forecast for Ford Thailand.

"We will launch eight products over the next five years and are optimistic about our growth in Thailand. Our ambitions are long term."

Saroj Kiatfuengfoo, a senior vice-president of the Thailand unit, said 30 new dealerships will open this year, bringing its total number of branches to 133.

"We sold 3,200 cars in January, which is the most in our history," said Mr Saroj.

On electric vehicle (EV) production, Mr Farley said: "There's no specific plan. But unlike our competition, Ford does not have to create a unique platform for its EV products. Our C-car line can adjust to EV assembly requirements. Our core platforms are flexible."

Ford's production facilities in Rayong province along the Eastern Seaboard were not affected by last year's floods, while only two dealerships - in the Phutthamonthon and Rangsit areas - were compromised by the massive inundation.

"After-sales service and affordable parts will be our focus areas. Our class-leading service intervals [15,000 kilometres] and 24-hour spare parts guarantee will be key factors," said Peter Fleet, the president of Ford Asean.

Mr Fleet does not anticipate any major strategy adjustments ahead of the establishment of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.

"Ford is committed to Thailand based on our US$2.5-billion investment to make it our production hub. Ford will focus on domestic sales and increasing its exports," he said.

Ford's Thai market share is 3.7%, the eighth-largest brand in the country.

General Motors sold 31,595 new vehicles in Thailand last year for a 4% share. Its sales were up by 57.8% in Thailand last year.

About the author

Writer: Alfred Tha Hla
Position: Motoring Reporter