Thailand will continue to play a major role for Japanese automakers as a manufacturing and export base.
Nissan yesterday staged a grand opening ceremony for its second production plant in the country that will assemble the new Navara pickup for both domestic and export markets.
The NP300 Navara, Nissan’s new-generation pickup truck, is destined for export to 45 countries, executives said.
Nissan plans to sell 3,000 Navaras per month in Thailand and raise its market share to double-digit figures from the present 6 per cent
According to Fumiaki Matsumoto, Nissan’s executive vice president responsible for global manufacturing, Thailand is a key market for the automaker and an integral part of the company’s growth strategy in Asia.
Nissan now has two assembly plants and an R&D facility, increasing in importance as the company’s Asian hub for exports and manufacturing.
“Thailand is the engine of growth for us in the region, so we’re excited to open this second plant which will produce our latest pickup,” he said. “It signifies our optimism for Thailand as a growing automotive market, a centre of manufacturing excellence for the region and an export hub for the world.”
Nissan has invested Bt3.7 billion in the 580,000-square-metre facility, bringing with it 2,000 new job opportunities. Nissan said the plant would initially produce 75,000 Navara pickups, of which half would be exported. However, production capacity could be raised to 150,000 pickups per year if needed.
The new plant will increase Nissan’s production capacity in Thailand to 370,000 vehicles. More than half of these produced at the new plant will be exported to global markets. The localisation ratio of vehicles produced is already 85 per cent, including the engines. Nissan started producing cars in the kingdom back in 1963, when four cars rolled off the production line a day.