By THE NATION
While 5.8 million vehicles produced by Toyota Motor Thailand Co Ltd, Thailand's largest auto producer, were for the domestic market, as much as 4.2 million units were exported globally, generating as much as Bt2.58 billion for the country, executives said during a ceremony at the Samrong plant yesterday.
The Japanese auto maker started producing vehicles in Thailand back in 1962 at its Samrong plant, rolling out the Corolla, Corona, Hilux and Dyna during the first 10 years of operations.
With the Gateway plant helping to churn out passenger cars for the Thai market, Toyota production in Thailand reached the 1-million unit mark in 1996, before growing to 5 million units in 2010 after establishing the Ban Pho plant.
According to Toyota, the company has 172 first-tier suppliers, in addition to 155 dealerships around the country.
With 14,500 employees, Toyota Motor Thailand has a combined production capacity of 750,000 units per year.
Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana, who presided over the ceremony, said "Toyota’s great success was a result of its investments in various automotive projects supported by the policy of the Thai government including the one-tonne pick-up truck under the IMV project and eco-cars. It was also the first to invest in hybrid vehicle manufacturing and the first automaker investing in battery production worth almost Bt20 billion. This helped the transfer of knowledge and technology into the country. TMT president Michinobu Sugata said Toyota has complete confidence in Thailand and the the company's future direction in the country.
“To accelerate Thailand's competitiveness, Toyota-Daihatsu Engineering and Manufacturing has been working to boost the research and development capabilities of Thai engineers,” he said.
“It has more than 400 Thai engineers, who have succeeded in redesigning the exteriors of the new Yaris and Hilux, and also made a significant contribution to our 10-million-unit production.
“Together with Toyota-Daihatsu Engineering and Manufacturing, Toyota Motor Thailand will shift the gear towards creating ‘Ever-better’ mobility.
“ We will continue to invest in our facilities and our people to deliver products and services that offer happiness to our customers.”