GM sees potential in Asean despite setbacks

Corporate January 21, 2014 00:00

By Jirapan Boonnoon
The Nation

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General Motors has high hopes for its operations in Asean despite seeing its revenue drop by more than 9 per cent last year.

Stefan Jacoby, GM’s executive vice president for consolidated international operations, said the US corporation believed that Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia had significant growth potential. However, the automaker will also announce new strategies for its two plants in Rayong province, planning for export in the third quarter. 
It is also looking for a new chief executive to oversee its Southeast Asian operations. 
“We understand that Asean is the second-biggest growth market for the auto industry next to China  … in the coming year. We are looking for a new president and CEO for Southeast Asia,” Jacoby revealed, adding that an announcement was expected in the next couple of months. 
Last year, GM sold 1.12 million vehicles in this region, a decline of 9 per cent from 2012, representing 5.4 per cent of the 21.6 million units it sold in the more than 100 markets where it operates.
In Thailand, GM sold more than 56,000 units, down 25 per cent from 2012.
Jacoby said 2012 was “an exceptional year affected by government incentives” and a comeback in the market after the flood disaster of 2011. He added that Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and other Asean markets could generate a second wave of growth as incomes rise, which would provide great opportunities for GM’s Chevrolet brand in the future.
GM is preparing to participate in Phase 2 of Thailand’s eco-car programme, utilising its existing plants in the Kingdom. However, the company also needs a stable system and confidence in the political system. 
“We are confident in Asean and Thailand as well as willing to invest in the market because we believe in their growth potential. 
“We are working on interesting growth strategies for the region,” he said.