MG Chon Buri plant opens
Thai-Chinese carmaker SAIC Motor-CP has opened its new 10-billion-baht plant in Chon Buri, aiming to make it the production hub for right-hand-drive MG cars in Asean.
The company held an opening ceremony yesterday attended by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, Chinese minister-counsellor to Thailand Wu Zhiwu and Charoen Phokphand (CP) Group senior chairman Dhanin Chearavanont.
The new assembly facility is scheduled to make five models -- MG3, MG5, MG6, MG GS and MS ZS -- with total production capacity of 100,000 units a year.
The plant is situated on a 438-rai plot at Hemaraj Eastern Seaboard industrial Estate 2 and employs 690 workers.
Vice-chairman of CP Group Thanakorn Seriburi said that once operations begin, SAIC Motor-CP plans to export MG cars by the second half of next year.
The company is conducting a feasibility study to kick off the eco-car scheme after it was granted Board of Investment (BoI) privileges in November 2014 to make 110,000 eco-cars a year worth 7.6 billion baht.
"We have the latest in automation and the most intelligent robotics facility in Thailand, equal to the main plant in China, so we are very keen on many future projects, including new vehicle segments, new countries for export and new electric vehicles (EVs)," Mr Thanakorn said.
"The company has already imported the Roewe EV from Shanghai for our feasibility study to test the Thai market, and we also plan to join the BoI's EV scheme next year after disclosing the project with the Thai government."
Founded in 2012, SAIC Motor-CP is a 51:49 joint venture of Shanghai-based SAIC Motor and Thai agrobusiness conglomerate CP Group.
The first plant in Rayong, worth 9 billion baht, began operations in June 2014, making 50,000 cars a year. Since then, MG cars have been sold locally.
The company then decided to move its facility from Rayong to a new location, while the former plant has been closed.
President Shi Guoyong said the new facility is located in the Eastern Economic Corridor, which has many advantages as a regional logistics centre.
Thailand is the first overseas operation for MG cars outside of China.
MG is among the top 10 car brands in the Thai market, with expectations of selling 16,000 cars this year.
Last year the company sold 8,319 MG cars, up 120% from 3,778 in 2015. In 2014, the company sold just 300 cars locally.