GWM plans $300m plant

SUV, truck output of 100,000 projected

Great Wall Motor Co Ltd (GWM), China's largest producer of sport-utility vehicles and one of the biggest producers of pickup trucks, plans to invest about US$300 million to set up an SUV production plant in Thailand.

The Great Wall Motor Co’s Haval SUV receives awarm introduction from a model at the Bangkok motor show.

Deputy general manager Wang Shi Hui said the plant will produce 100,000 vehicles per year on an area of 800,000 square metres.

The investment will be divided into two phases, with each phase adding 50,000 vehicles to production capacity.

The exact location of the plant has not been disclosed, but it is likely to be established on an industrial estate in Rayong province.

Construction is scheduled to start by the end of this year, with commercial production due in 2015.

The Thai plant will be GWM's sixth overseas SUV assembly plant on top of ones in Bulgaria, Iran, Malaysia, Russia and Senegal.

All the plants aim to serve both domestic and export markets in their own region.

Listed both on the H-share market in Hong Kong and the A-share market on the Chinese mainland, GWM has more than 30 holding subsidiaries with more than 48,000 employees.

Its three vehicle categories are the Haval SUV, Great Wall PC and Wingle Pickup, with a current annual production capacity of 800,000 vehicles.

GWM reported sales of 624,000 vehicles worldwide last year, of which about 200,000 were for export.

The Chinese automaker plans to raise production capacity to 1.5 million vehicles and realise a sales target of 1.3 million by 2015.

GWM vehicles are exported to more than 100 countries and the firm has sales networks in about 80. Europe, Central and South America, Asia, Africa and Australia are its major export markets.

Mr Wang said the company's study found that Thailand is a market with high growth, good infrastructure and plentiful auto parts supplies.

More importantly, wages in the industry in Thailand are competitive against those in other countries, he said on the sidelines of the Bangkok International Motor Show, where the company has introduced its Haval SUV to the Thai market.

Thailand is the largest car producer in Southeast Asia and is in the top 10 globally. Most manufacturers are Japanese but there has been increasing interest from Chinese car makers including Chery Automobile and Dongfeng Motor Corp.

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Writer: Piyachart Maikaew
Position: Business Reporter