MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Ayala-led Integrated Micro-Electronics Inc. (IMI) is breaking into Thailand’s motorcycle market by exporting KTM-branded bikes produced by its state-of-the-art Laguna hub before the year’s end.
Last June, IMI inaugurated a manufacturing facility for European motorcycle giant KTM in its complex in Laguna Technopark.
“We are already slated to start exporting bikes to Thailand before the end of the year,” IMI chief executive Arthur Tan said in a chance interview on Friday.
IMI originally planned to export the KTM bikes to China first, but Tan said they faced delays there because of certification requirements.
“Instead of targeting December to ship to China, we’re going to start shipping in February,” Tan said. IMI’s plan is to export 10,000 KTM bikes to China annually.
“But the one in Thailand is moving forward, so by December, we’re going to start our first shipment to Thailand,” he said.
The firm would be exporting only 300 bikes for the first batch, but Tan said this was a “historic” shipment nonetheless.
Thailand is one Southeast Asian country with a very strong automotive industry. Tan said the Philippines would be “very competitive” tapping into this lucrative market.
“When we do it, it requires less number of people. We have higher level of product knowledge and process knowledge compared to them so that our ramp-up for quality and yield is significantly faster and that’s why we’re able to do it more competitively,” Tan said.
“Next year, our total volume that we anticipate to sell in the Philippines will be the same amount of volume that we’re going to export—over 4,000 both sides on gross basis. So we’re going to jump next year,” he said.
Asked about the group’s long-running plan to likewise venture into car manufacturing, Tan said there wasn’t anything concrete yet.
“But internally, we’re prepared. We have assets that put us in a framework that we’re no longer at the mercy of a car company ... We own companies now that produce the car for them, so they can’t say that we don’t know how to do this,” Tan said.
For now, the Philippines don’t have the scale yet to compete commercially against the likes of Thailand, he added.
“What we’re pushing for is, instead of competing in terms of scale, we compete in technology,” Tan said.
On Friday, IMI reported a 16 per cent growth in nine-month net profit to $24.1 million, driven by new acquisitions and robust businesses in Europe and Mexico.