Isuzu expects steep rise in demand for trucks under AEC

Auto & Audio October 01, 2012 00:00

By KINGSLEY WIJAYASINHA
THE NATI

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Commercial vehicle giant Isuzu expects that the implementation of the Asean Economic Community in 2015 will dramatically boost the logistics business for large trucks, as more commodities will be delivered by land transport within Asean nations and to as



Hiroshi Nakagawa, president of Tripetch Isuzu Sales Co, said last week that the company is studying the truck logistics business in preparation for the AEC.

“The introduction of the AEC means that goods can be delivered by trucks from Singapore through Asean roads to China as the barriers are lifted,” he said.

Thailand is stronger than others and would greatly benefit once the AEC starts, he said.

Goods would first pass through Thailand and then to Laos, where the cargo would be switched over to left-hand-drive trucks to China. Presently only right-hand trucks are produced in Thailand, while the left-hand trucks in Laos are imported from Japan.

In October, Isuzu will formally open its Bt6.5-billion plant at the Gateway Industrial Estate in Chachoengsao, which will have an initial capacity of 130,000 units per year, comprising 100,000 pickup trucks and 30,000 large trucks.

Due to the large back-orders, Isuzu customers need to wait three to four months for their pickups to be delivered.

“We must apologise to our customers for the long wait and we are trying our best to increase our production in order to shorten the delivery period,” Nakagawa said.

The new plant will raise Isuzu’s total capacity to 300,000 units per year. Its Samrong plant can assemble 200,000 vehicles per year running on two shifts or 22 hours per day, while the Gateway plant will start off with a single shift.

As much as 70 per cent of its pickup production is for the domestic market while the rest is exported. But Isuzu could ship more D-MAX pickups to the global market, since there are many countries where the new model has not been introduced, he said.

Isuzu has 100 dealerships with 300 outlets nationwide. Although it does not plan to add dealers, more showrooms and service centres are expected to be opened due to the increase in Isuzu pickups on the road.

Although Isuzu has been building its share in the European market with Thai-made pickups, the euro crisis has not created a big impact on the company.

“There are some effects, but the number of orders is still rising. Only if the crisis worsens would it make a difference,” he said.

Being a new model has helped the D-MAX generate considerable sales in the European market.

Isuzu on Friday celebrated sales of over 200,000 D-MAXs, including back orders. This was achieved within a year of its launch and was the highest figure ever achieved in the company’s 55-year history here.

The 15,000 orders placed for the pickup within three days of the launch was also another record.

Isuzu introduced the D-MAX late last year but was unable to deliver vehicles due to parts disruption caused by the Thai flood crisis.