Japanese carmaker Mitsubishi Motors Corporation is ramping up exports, using Thailand as a production base for pickup truck and eco-car shipments to more than 140 countries.
Japan-based president Osamu Masuko said yesterday that Mitsubishi's three factories on the Laem Chabang Industrial Estate in Chon Buri province are export-orientated operations.
The plants have a combined annual capacity of 460,000 units, about 70% of which serve overseas markets.
The export target for the Thai plants is 340,000 units this year, a rise from 280,000 last year.
"Thailand is our second-largest production base behind our headquarters in Japan thanks to the Thai government's support of the automobile industry and the Board of Investment's tax incentives," Mr Masuko said in Bangkok.
Mitsubishi has been in Thailand since 1961. It began exports with its Lancer Champ model in 1988. As of last month, Mitsubishi had exported 2 million vehicles from Thailand.
Its main models for the global market are the Triton (73.2%), Pajero Sport (21.7%) and Mirage (5.1%).
The company's Laem Chabang plant that produces Mirage eco-cars has been deemed its production base for Mirage exports.
"There is no investment plan to have any other Mirage plants elsewhere, so Thailand is the strategic production country of Mitsubishi Motors for Mirage," Mr Masuko said.
Mitsubishi plans to spend about 1 billion baht to raise the production capacity of Mirage by another 50,000 units this year. It started Mirage commercial production early last year with an annual capacity of 150,000 units.
Mitsubishi plans to build a research and development centre in Thailand within two years to accommodate Asean expansion.
As a first step, the company plans to increase its number of Thai and Japanese engineers from 40 to 120.
It also plans to set up a test course in one of its Chon Buri plants.
In the domestic market, Mitsubishi Motors (Thailand) aims to sell 120,000 vehicles this year, giving it a share of about 10% of the country's overall market.
About the author
Writer: Piyachart Maikaew