Introduction: A Current View of the Thai Automotive Industry
The Thai automotive industry, often referred to as the “Detroit of Asia”, is the largest in Southeast Asia. As of 2012, Thailand was ranked 9th in the OICA (Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles) list of top car producing countries as seen in Figure 1, marking the first time the country was able to land within the top ten spot. The 2,483,043 units of motor vehicle production in 2012 was a 70.3% increase from the previous year, the largest percentage increase in the world. This is largely due to the government’s first-car buyer scheme as well as the piled-up demand from the suspension of production caused by the 2011 flood.
In 2012, the production capacity of the Thai automotive industry was 2.75 million for cars and 2.8 million for motorcycles. Both numbers are expected to surpass 3 million by 2014 due to the strong economic and industrial growth in Thailand. Toyota Motor Thailand Co., Ltd leads as the largest automobile manufacturer in the country, with a production capacity of approximately 550,000 vehicles per annum. Isuzu Motors and Mitsubishi, each with a production capacity half that of Toyota’s, come in second and third, respectively.
Thailand began exporting cars in 1987. As of now, the automotive industry is the second largest contributor to Thailand’s export value, next to the computer industry. The export value of the Thai automotive industry was 490.13 billion baht in 2012, making Thailand the world’s 7th largest car exporter. In June, 2012, automobile exports hit a 25-year record high of 94,727 units, a 25.22% year-on-year increase. The ratio of total domestic to export is 50:50. Major destinations of vehicle exports in Thailand are Australia and Malaysia, as shown in Figure 2.
Production Sites, Suppliers, and Structure
As shown in Figure 3, Bangkok, Samutprakarn, Chonburi, Rayong, and Pathumthaini are the homes to automotive parts suppliers...