Motor Expo to highlight AEC launch

Auto & Audio February 07, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Organisers want event to become a platform for welcoming 2015 - a year of important change for auto industry

The Thailand International Motor Expo, to be held at the end of this year, will focus on the launch of the Asean Economic Cooperation (AEC) scheduled for 2015. 
The event is to serve as a stage for unifying Asean’s 10 members, ensuring a bright future under the concept of “Moving Forward Together – Asean Autos”, organisers said. 
Kwanchai Paphatphong, president & CEO of Inter-Media Consultants and organising chairman of the 31st Thailand International Motor Expo 2014, said organisers want the expo to become a platform for welcoming 2015, the year in which important economic change takes place. 
“The opening of the AEC will take place then, leading to tangible cooperation among 10 Asean member countries, with the auto industry being one of the sectors promoted to share a single production base and market,” he said. 
Thailand’s automotive industry has the highest potential overall, capable of producing more than 2 million vehicles per year, half of which are exported. 
“Thailand is a significant production base in the category of 1-tonne commercial vehicles or pickup trucks and standard energy-saving vehicles or eco-cars,” Kwanchai pointed out. 
Indonesia has the second largest auto industry, which is fast growing, thanks to the promotion of low-cost green cars. The country is followed by Malaysia, which has the third-largest auto industry, with passenger cars – including the “national car” well known worldwide – accounting for 90 per cent of the total output. Meanwhile, the Philippines, though producing less than 100,000 cars per annum, is a major automotive parts manufacturer in Asean, whereas Vietnam has attracted a number of Chinese manufacturers who have invested in production bases for various types of commercial vehicles operating under government support. 
“I believe the potential of the automotive industry in each of these countries will develop rapidly after the opening of the AEC. There are many reasons for this. For example, there will be the free flow of capital, reduction and removal of import tariffs, the linking of a ‘supply chain’ or networking of products and services, as well as the mobility of skilled labour, resulting in flexibility for operators in procuring raw materials, equipment, machinery and personnel. 
“Moreover, the 600 million-plus population of the region combined with the expectation that by 2018 the Asean automotive market size will be over 4.7 million vehicles per year, ranking sixth in the world, will attract major manufacturers to step up investment in the region,” he said. 
Obvious benefits arise as when the operators’ production and managerial costs are reduced, vehicle prices will tend to represent better value for money. When know-how can be transferred without restriction, production standards and technologies will be higher. And after removal of the tariff wall, a wider variety of vehicles will be available for buyers to choose from. 
“As for Thailand’s auto market in 2014, growth is expected to decline by about 10 per cent, judging from the political protests which, if extended, will retard consumer demand in the first half of the year. In any case, I am optimistic that by the third and fourth quarters, the market will gradually adjust to normal levels and consumer demand will surge once again during the period of the Motor Expo 2014,” Kwanchai said.