TCIL equips for 4 Subaru cars
Lat Krabang plant expansion needed
Hong Kong-listed Tan Chong International Ltd (TCIL) plans to localise its assembly line for four Subaru car models in the near future after starting operations at its 5-billion-baht plant in Thailand.
TCIL plans to spend US$10-20 million (319-638 million baht) to install new equipment for a paint and body shop at the Lat Krabang plant this year and another $15 million to expand production capacity over five years.
The company opened an assembly plant at Lat Krabang Industrial Estate in Bangkok on Tuesday, which covers 100,000 square metres.
The plot was the former assembly facility for Fuso, a Japanese heavy-duty truck.
TCIL and Tokyo-based Subaru Corporation formed a joint venture -- Tan Chong Subaru Automotive Thailand -- in February 2017 to handle this local facility.
TCIL holds a majority stake of 74.9% through subsidiary TC Manufacturing and Assembly Thailand, while Subaru owns the remainder.
The Lat Krabang plant is Subaru's first foothold in Asia outside of Japan.
The Subaru Forester is scheduled to be assembled here.
In 2019, TCIL plans to assemble 6,000 cars.
"Maximum capacity can reach 100,000 Subaru cars per year, with two working shifts," said Glenn Tan, deputy chairman and managing director of TCIL.
"We will work to maximise this facility to assemble four Subaru models in the future."
TCIL, through subsidiary Motor Image Group, holds a distribution licence to sell Subaru vehicles not only in Thailand, but also in Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, southern China, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam via more than 120 outlets.
Mr Tan said the Lat Krabang facility will handle exports of the Forester to Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia from the fourth quarter.
In 2019, Motor Image expects to sell 25,000 Subaru cars in 10 countries, with Taiwan, Thailand and Malaysia expected to be key markets.
Last year, the company sold 23,000 Subaru cars, 8,000 of which were sold in Taiwan.
Subaru sales in Thailand for the period stood at 2,260 cars, up by 6.5% from 2017.
"With the new production of Forester in Thailand, we expects sales from this country to reach 5,000 cars in 2019," said Mr Tan.
TCIL has been keen to assemble Subaru cars in Southeast Asia, with another subsidiary, Tan Chong Motor Assemblies in Segambut, Malaysia, putting together the Subaru XV for over four years under a production contract with Subaru.
Capacity stands at 5,000-6,000 Subaru cars.
"We have yet to decide the direction of the Malaysia operation," Mr Tan said.
"The Subaru XV is being assembled there until the model's life cycle ends."