Isuzu will double truck production in Thailand

Thailand’s automotive manufacturing sector continued its strong comeback as Japanese carmaker Isuzu Motors announced last week it will double production of heavy-duty trucks at its Thailand plant in order to increase exports to markets around Southeast Asia, after having invested in making Thailand its strategic hub for heavy trucks in the region.

Toshiaki Maekawa, president of Isuzu’s local distributor, Tri Petch Isuzu Sales Co., said the potential market in Southeast Asia for trucks two-tons or larger is huge. Indonesia, with its vast archipelago, along with the Philippines and Viet Nam are large markets within striking distance of the Kingdom.

Until recently, the company had been focusing on the Thai domestic truck market, while producing roughly 26,000 heavy trucks a year in the Kingdom. Isuzu holds a 49 percent share of the Thai heavy truck market and sold 12,000 of them in the Kingdom last year.

Thailand is also one of the world’s largest markets for one-ton pickup trucks. Isuzu is planning on doubling its output at its heavy truck factory.

The company designated Thailand as its strategic hub for heavy truck production in 2014 and began investing in a research and development center in the Kingdom for heavy trucks.

The decision by Isuzu to name Thailand as its strategic hub is a testament to the enduring strength of Thailand as a major manufacturing center for automobiles. Often referred to as “the Detroit of Southeast Asia,” Thailand’s vehicle manufacturing center has drawn investments and production from virtually every major European, United States and Asian automakers.

Japanese firms dominate the domestic market, but U.S. automaker Ford Motor Corp., has gradually been making gains in market share. Many automakers have made investments  and continued to invest in manufacturing in Thailand, allowing the Kingdom to maintain its preeminent position as a manufacturing hub.

The Thai market for heavy trucks is expected to get a boost this year and in the next few years because of the government’s massive infrastructure building program. Analysts also said that better pricing of consumer goods and tax breaks for local entrepreneurs who spend on commercial vehicles will also contribute to rising sales for heavy trucks.

Isuzu unveiled six new heavy truck models last week dubbed the “King of Trucks” in Thailand. The new models are locally made and will be exported to other regional markets.