Thailand’s automotive industry has grown steadily. The industry began in 1961, with a total of only 500 units assembled. The country now ranks ninth among the world’s automotive manufacturers and comes first in the ASEAN region.
According to the Ministry of Industry, Thailand produced 2.4 million vehicle units in 2012, an increase of 68 percent over 2011. Indonesia produced 1.02 million units, and Malaysia almost 570,000 units during the same period.
It is expected that automotive production in Thailand will increase to 2.5 million vehicle units in 2013. The second phase of investment promotion measures for eco-car production is seen as a factor that will help Thailand achieve the auto manufacturing target.
The Ministry of Industry believes that Thailand will be able to produce 3.4 million units in 2017, against three million targeted earlier. With this number, Thailand will rank fifth among the world’s top automotive manufacturers. The country has been striving to be on the list of the top ten car production bases in the world. Today, the world’s largest auto manufacturer is China, followed by the United States and Japan.
The country’s strategic location also makes it a hub for car exports, especially to countries within ASEAN and those surrounding Southeast Asia.
In order to cope with growth in car production, all relevant agencies are seeking ways to ease labor shortages in Thailand’s automotive industry. The Thailand Automotive Institute has set a target to develop labor skills for 300,000 workers in the automotive industry from 2011 to 2016. A target has been set for one Thai worker to produce six vehicle units a year on average by 2016, compared to three units now. The number is still relatively low, when compared with Japan, where one worker can produce 11-12 vehicle units a year now.
Application for investment promotion for Phase 2 of the Eco Car Scheme is now open until 31 March 2014
Successful applicants are required to begin production in 2019. The Thailand Board of Investment plans to invite all car companies to the briefing on details of the project within the next 2 weeks. Minister of Industry Mr. Prasert Boonchaisuk said that the Thailand Board of Investment or BOI had officially announced the investment promotion scheme for Eco Car Phase 2 on 30 September 2013 with the aim of boosting the Thai automotive industry.
Interested car makers can apply for the promotion from now until 31 March 2014.
Eligible applicants will have to make an investment of at least Bt6,500 million in their projects and operate a complete manufacturing line, covering vehicle assembly, auto parts and engine manufacturing.
The production volume must be at least 100,000 cars per year (from the 4th year of operation). The engines used in the cars produced under this scheme must pass the Euro 5 standard with less than 100 grammes of carbon dioxide emission per kilometer. Fuel consumption must be less than 4.3 liters per 100 kilometers while displacement must be 1,300 cc for gasoline engines, and 1,500cc for diesel engines.
In preparation for the growing automotive industry, Thammasat University is joining forces with private companies in launching an international program on automotive engineering. A budget of 200 million baht has been offered to the university’s Faculty of Engineering to finance the program “Auto TU,” which will be taught in English at Thammasat University’s Pattaya Center.
Rector of Thammasat University Prof. Dr. Somkit Lertpaithoon said that the automotive engineering program lasts four years and focuses on knowledge about mechanical engineering, especially designs and production, as well as practical experience in the automotive industry.
He said that Thammasat will exchange students in this field with various universities in foreign countries. With this international cooperation, he said, Thai students in this field of study will be equipped with both professional and language skills.