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Ford and Mazda Will Build Pickups in Thailand

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On: Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 1:47PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Ford and Mazda Will Build Pickups in Thailand

Ford Motor Co., in partnership with Mazda Motor Corp., is planning a new endeavor to build subcompact pickup trucks in Thailand. Ford and Mazda plan to invest up to $350 million at the AutoAlliance Thailand plant in order to purchase tooling supplies, upgrade the plant, and train employees; production is gearing up to start in 2011.

Including the investment in the latest project, Mazda and Ford have invested more than $1.85 billion in the Thailand truck plant since its inception in 1995. In the past, Ford Motor Co. maintained controlling interest in Mazda, but recently reduced its stake in the Japanese automaker to only 13%.

The AutoAlliance plant was started in 2009 in order to manufacture the Mazda2 and Ford Fiestas slotted for Thailand and Southeast Asian markets. The factory currently produces Ford Ranger and Mazda B Series pickups to over 130 global markets. The new Ranger is projected to be exported from Thailand to Asian and Pacific markets, and other markets throughout the world.

According to Ford’s Asia Pacific operations head, Jim Hinrichs, “The new production line… will raise the bar in flexibility, efficiency, quality and environmentally-friendly production at AAT.”


 

Thailand has the 2nd most lucrative economy in Southeast Asia; it has become the focal point for light vehicle, (compact pickup) production and export, in part, due to government incentives. Thailand’s booming economy is due to the size of the city—67 million—and its sizable agriculture industry.

Ford Motor Co. plans to acquire another $450 million factory in Rayong with plans to build the Ford Focus in 2012 for domestic and export markets. The Ford Ranger is scheduled to be discontinued in the United States, as the Twin Cities Assembly plant in St. Paul will close in 2011, but it is unclear as to whether the Ranger will be replaced by another product for the domestic market.

According to Ford executives, the company is considering production of a compact pickup based on Ford’s T6 compact pickup platform that is manufactured in Australia for global export. The problem in exporting a new compact truck model from Australia is an export tax of 25% that would make the price of the new Ranger the same as the F-150 model, which would be “a tough sell for pickup buyers,” according to Automotive News.com.


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