'Resized' Tata says car sales in Thailand will continue
Tata Motors Thailand plans to keep a business presence in the country despite ceasing local assembly in the financial year that ended in March.
"We are restructuring and resizing our business operation in Thailand, and all Tata commercial vehicles will be imported from India," said Karanjit Rosha, vice-president for sales and marketing at the local arm of Mumbai-based Tata Motors.
Vehicles imported from India are subject to a 40% customs duty, he said, while tractors have a 20% duty.
According to Mr Rosha, Tata's restructuring plan of the local operation will take 12-18 months starting this financial year.
He acknowledged that the local unit would have to reduce the number of employees in Bangkok, but he declined to outline plans for the remaining manpower.
In addition, Tata has ended some dealership contracts in Thailand after investors decided to terminate the contracts.
As a result, the number of Tata showrooms and service centres has decreased from 55 in mid-2018 to 34 now.
Mr Rosha said Tata's line-up in Thailand will soon consist of a full range of commercial vehicles: mini trucks, pickups, medium-duty trucks and heavy-duty trucks.
For this financial year, Tata expects to sell 2,000 vehicles, largely Xenon pickups, as well as 250-300 of the Super Ace Mint and 210 of the Tata Ultra and Daewoo Novus.
"We are confident of achieving our sales target because we had sales growth of 30% during April to June," Mr Rosha said.
Tata posted roughly 1,000 vehicles sold in Thailand in the last financial year.
Last August, the parent firm announced the closure of the assembly line at the 500-million-baht Bangkok plant, which has the capacity to assemble 8,000 pickups and 2,500 mini trucks.
Tata hired Bangchan General Assembly Co in 2017 to manage assembly in Bangkok on a five-year contract.
Mr Rosha would not elaborate on how Tata is handling the terminated contract, saying only that both parties have complete their internal processes.
Founded locally in 2008, Tata Motors reached a high point in Thai sales during the company's financial 2012, with 4,597 vehicles.
Sales suffered sharp declines during the 2013-18 financial years.