Thailand’s Automotive Industry Recovers and Prepares for Export Growth

Thailand's Automotive Industry Recovers and Prepares for Export Growth

Thailand is the ASEAN Automotive Hub, with the largest vehicle assembly capacity and high-quality parts manufacturing capability from any country in the region.

Rebounding from last year’s flood crisis, Thailand’s automotive industry which was devastated including parts and accessories saw potential growth in the export market through increased production and innovation.

Manufacturers such as Honda, Toyota and Chevrolet have been fast in their recovery, which ultimately increased investment and demand from the global economy.

Innovation and New Product Development

As there has been speedy growth, new products are being launched by car-makers with attention towards Eco-friendly or hybrid cars in support of Thailand to be an Eco-car production powerhouse. The top 5 companies taking part in this initiative are Honda, Toyota, Suzuki, Nissan and Mitsubishi.

Current popular hybrid or Eco-cars are:

• Nissan March

• Honda Brio

• Suzuki Swift

• New Honda Jazz hybrid

Also recently this year, Mitsubishi launched its first and new global compact car – Mirage with exports to Japan in July this year and then to the ASEAN, European and other markets respectively.

Auto parts

There are around 1,800 automotive parts suppliers in Thailand, of which around 700 are available as OEMs.

For exports, the auto parts industry is rather complicated and difficult. Many automotive manufacturers in Thailand already have exclusive contracts with their customers and cannot produce for their competitors also. Also small manufacturers cannot cope with large and specialized orders.

However, the Thai Department of Trade, just this year hosted the Thailand Auto Parts & Accessories 2012 (TAPA 2012) trade fair featuring auto parts & components (OEM/REM), auto accessories, petroleum /lubricants/maintenance products, tools & machines and even vehicles focused on promoting items to buyers and importers from around the world.

Some of the major products and services that were on displays included:

• Fuel injection pump

• Transmission • Injection nozzle

• Anti-lock braking system

• Electronic systems to support mold and mold technology

• Research & Development Center

• ECU, central and sonar locking system

Some Statistics

At the beginning of 2012 (between January to March), Thailand’s automotive industry produced close to 191,000 auto units of which 47% were exported to Japan, ASEAN, US and European markets. Of the automobiles, the majority of the cars produced were double cab pickups followed by passenger cards. The SUVs were the least produced and exported this year so far.

In regards to the OEM auto-parts, the exports valued up to over US 36.6 million Dollars in January.

Looking at the trend since 2005 and expected export till 2015, sales have been progressively increasing, except for 2009 and 2011 due to economical and flood crisis during those years.