Toyota, Thailand's biggest car maker, plans to invest 12 billion baht in a new factory at Gateway 2 in Chachoengsao, touting a new eco-car as the first model.
Domestic demand for new cars will moderate as the government’s first-time buyer scheme ends, according to Mr Tanada. SOMCHAI POOMLARD
The plant will be fully operational by the third quarter of 2013 and have an annual capacity of 300,000 units a year, said Kyoichi Tanada, president of Toyota Motor Thailand.
The new factory is an expansion of Toyota's existing plant at Gateway.
According to Mr Tanada, Toyota's first facility in Thailand at Samrong in Samut Prakan recently kicked off assembly of the Hiace Commuter High-Roof van, after a capital investment of 1.5 billion baht.
The output handled by Toyota Auto Works Co, formerly known as Thai Auto Works, will substitute imports. With 300 employees and one shift a day initially, production capacity will be increased by two shifts to 18,000 annually by midyear.
Toyota runs three plants in Thailand.
The Samrong facility makes Hilux Vigo pickup trucks, with a capacity of 240,000 units a year.
Gateway in Chachoengsao, Toyota's second plant, makes all passenger car models, with a capacity of 230,000 units a year.
The third factory, in Chachoengsao's Ban Pho district, makes Vigo and Fortuner passenger pickups, with a capacity of 230,000 units a year.
Toyota Motor Thailand expects sales of 900,000 units this year _ 500,000 locally and 400,000 for export.
In 2012, the company sold 516,086 vehicles in the domestic market, a 78% rise from 2011. Export sales totalled 405,892 vehicles, up nearly 62%, boosted by the tax rebate for first-time buyers.
The company aims to expand showrooms and service centres this year from 357 locations now to 400, with Toyota Sure showrooms rising from 85 to 100.
Toyota Sure is the certified used-car business of Toyota Motor Thailand.
Toyota expects Thai auto industry sales to fall 16% to 1.2 million vehicles in 2013 after a subsidy-fuelled 80% surge in 2012.
Industry sales in 2012 totalled 1.43 million vehicles.
"Domestic demand is back to a normal situation after the government's first- time car buyer scheme expired," said Mr Tanada.
The scheme, a populist policy the Pheu Thai Party campaigned on in 2011, offered a tax rebate of up to 100,000 baht for first-time buyers.
The waiver ended on Dec 31, leading to a surge in car sales before the deadline and an all-time high for full-year 2012.
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Writer: Piyachart Maikaew