SHANGHAI : SAIC Motor-CP Co plans to introduce the Maxus Datong, a British light commercial van, to the Thai market next year.
The Maxus Datong light commercial van is subject to a lower import tariff than passenger cars.
The company is a joint venture between China's Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC Motor) and Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group.
Nopadol Chiaravanont, vice-chairman of E.C.I. Group Co, CP Group's automotive and industrial subsidiary, said SAIC Motor-CP plans to import right-hand models from SAIC Motor's Shanghai plant.
Commercial vans are subject to an import tariff of only 47% including value-added tax compared with tariffs of 187-328% for passenger cars, depending on engine size.
The first model on offer in Thailand will be the Maxus Datong V80, powered by a 2.5-litre diesel engine.
The company plans to sell 1,000 vans in the first year and 1,800 annually in 2-3 years.
SAIC Motor-CP plans to recruit 15-20 dealers in Thailand next year to distribute the Maxus Datong and a British passenger car, the MG.
The company last year announced it had formed a joint venture with CP Group for a first-phase investment of 9 billion baht for a factory in Rayong's Hemaraj Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate.
Production capacity will be 50,000 vehicles a year, mainly for MG cars. The plant is due to start operation in mid-2014.
Mr Nopadol said SAIC Motor-CP plans to assemble the Maxus Datong locally as it plans to become a right-hand-vehicle production hub for export to Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand.
The company will open a factory in Rayong's Amata City Industrial Estate in the next two years. The new plant will have an annual production capacity of 200,000 vehicles.
"When sales and services of the MG and Maxus Datong are stable, it will be the right time to capture the right-hand export market," said Mr Nopadol.
Assistant vice-president Abhichet Sitakalin said demand for commercial vans in Thailand is 28,000 units per year, with 75% having a diesel engine.
About 2,000 are new vans and the rest are second-hand vehicles.
Mr Abhichet said the launch of the Maxus Datong in Thailand will be a challenge because most vans are imported.
Japanese vans are priced from 896,000 to 1.16 million baht, while the Maxus Datong will go for about 1.24 million baht.
"The Maxus's external and internal looks are completely different from other vans, with a higher roof of 170 centimetres and above, wider sliding doors and seats for 9-16 persons," Mr Abhichet said.
The Maxus was owned by the British van maker LDV Group Ltd until it was bought by SAIC Motor in 2010.
In February 2011, SAIC Motor introduced the V80 model under the rebranded Maxus Datong name and announced it would sell the vehicle globally.
Subsidiary SAIC Motor Commercial Co expects sales of Maxus Datong vans worldwide to reach 400,000 to 500,000 units by 2015.
About the author
- Writer: Piyachart Maikaew
Position: Business Reporter