Toyota to invest $257 million in Thailand, despite floods that affected its production

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 19, 2012

Toyota Motor Corp. will be investing 8.2 billion baht ($257 million) in Thailand, demonstrating just how confident it is in the Southeast Asian car sector hub even as it had faced major disruptions last year due to the flooding. Toyota will soon open a manufacturing plant at Gateway industrial park and will reopen a production line at its Thai Auto Works plant, where its Fortuners are built, according to Kyoichi Tanada, president of the Toyota Motor Thai unit, during a briefing. Tanada said that the company is pouring in a bigger investment “simply because we're not producing enough."

He said that the combined production capacity of the two new Toyota plants would be 88,000 units, with the expectation that the Gateway plant in Chachoengsao province will be prepared for its output to start in July 2013. He said that this plant will build passenger cars and environmentally friendly "eco cars.”

He added that the TAW plant in Samut Prakan province, which was shut down in May 2010 after demand narrowed, can resume production in December 2012. He emphasized that Toyota won’t go elsewhere and that it is relying on the partnership between the Thai government and Japan International Cooperation Agency to make sure that the flooding has been solved.

Analysts believe that even with the impact of the flood, Japanese car makers would still proceed with the transfer of production to Thailand because of the low costs.

Tanada said that Toyota’s production losses from the tsunami in Japan and the Thai flood resulted to 200,000 vehicles in 2011. Japan-based Minebea Co. said that it will invest $75 million to construct a new plant in Thailand in the second half of 2012. According to the bearing manufacturer, its two existing plants will reopen in February and April.

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