How did Toyota come this far in Thailand?
When Toyota entered the Thai auto market in 1962, it was one of the first auto companies that set up a branch in Thailand. At the time Toyota Thailand was the first branch of Toyota Japan, while other brands came in and appointed distributors first, then decided to make large investments once they saw a bright future.
Toyota is an auto company that was highly confident in Thailand, and never considered retreating no matter how bad the situation the country or in the region was.
During the Indochina War and the Vietnam War, many auto makers especially American companies decided to abandon the Thai market, but Japanese brands, especially Toyota, with strong allies like the Siam Cement Group, remained here without fear.
From that day to the present, Toyota brought all of its strong facets to develop and adapt for use in Thailand, including improving the production process, maintaining a strong dealership network, logistics, spare parts management, product research and development, as well as government relations. It can be said that Toyota is stronger than other company in this area.
Sources from the auto industry say that Toyota seems to always know what the Thai government's moves are, and it has been able to effectively deliver products that Thai consumers want. This has enabled Toyota to be able to plan further and better than other companies. The Toyota brand has gained strong trust from customers, and its vehicles fetch a high resale value in the used car market.
However, the success must also be attributed to Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), which has been highly successful in the global market, with Thailand long designated as one of its strongholds in the world.
TMT wants Thailand to be global passenger production hub
Back in 2010, when Tanada was just appointed as president of TMT, he announced that Toyota had plans to raise Thailand as its global passenger car production centre, from its current status producing for the domestic, Asean and Oceania markets.
TMT had to study possibilities including plants, investments and products, as well as export markets, and submit them to TMC. This has led to the large amount of investments from Toyota we see today.
The chance of Thailand becoming a global passenger car production hub is high, due to its readiness in many areas. Toyota in Thailand is the only auto maker to produce more than 50,000 vehicles per month, which is the highest in the world. Although the US has higher production figures, they are a combination from many subsidiaries.
"In 2010 Toyota also raised our sales targets, from the 250,000 units announced at the start of the year to 300,000 units, which was a record for us in Thailand. And when exports are combined to this, Toyota had total production of over 600,000 units that year. We achieved our first target during my first year as president at TMT, instead of within three years," Tanada said.
Toyota pushed Thailand to world No.3 in 2005
The first major change for Toyota in Thailand was during Ryoichi Sasaki's presidency at TMT. During that era Toyota invested in everything, launching the IMV project, building its third assembly plant at Ban Pho, and seriously pushed Thailand as its major production and export centre, after Japan and the US. At the time it was forecast that Toyota could raise production capacity to 800,000 vehicles per year from the investments made during Sasaki's term.
Sonoda: Toyota is the true pickup champion
2006 was another successful year for Toyota, after it won the triple crown title, selling the most number of vehicles in all market segments. Toyota sold a total of 289,000 vehicles that year, achieving record sales as market leader for the fourth consecutive year.
"What Toyota is very proud of is being to sell a record 196,000 units in the commercial vehicle segment. The main factor was the Toyota Hilux Vigo and Fortuner that achieved the highest sales in their respective segments, totaling 185,000 units. In the pure pickup market, Hilux sales amounted to 166,358 units, giving Toyota the No-1 position in the segment for the first time in nine years," Mitsuhiro Sonoda, who succeeded Sasaki as TMT president, said.