Thailand is ASEAN's Automotive Hub, with the largest vehicle assembling capacity and the highest quality parts manufacturing capability of any nation in the region.
Rebounding from last year's flood crisis, Thailand's hard-hit automotive industry including auto parts and accessories sees potential growth in the export market through increased production and innovation.
Manufacturers such as Honda, Toyota and Chevrolet have been rapid in their recovery, which is ultimately improving investment and demands from the global economy.
Innovation and New Product Development
As there has been speedy growth, new products are being launched by car-makers with attention towards Eco-friendly or hybrid cars in support of Thailand to be an Eco-car production powerhouse. The top 5 companies taking part in this initiative are Honda, Toyota, Suzuki, Nissan and Mitsubishi.
Current popular hybrid or Eco-cars are:
• Nissan March
• Honda Brio
• Suzuki Swift
• New Honda Jazz hybrid
Also just recently this year, Mitsubishi launched its first and new global compact car - the Mirage with were exported to Japan in July this year and then to the ASEAN, European and other markets successively.
There are approximately 1,800 automotive parts suppliers in Thailand, of which about 700 are available as OEMs.
For exports, the auto-parts industry is a bit tricky and difficult. Many automotive manufacturers in Thailand already have exclusive contracts with their customers and cannot produce for their competitors also. Also small manufacturers cannot cope with large and specialized orders.
However, the Thai Department of Trade, just this year hosted the Thailand Auto Parts & Accessories 2012 (TAPA 2012) trade fair featuring auto parts & components (OEM/REM), auto accessories, petroleum /lubricants/maintenance products, tools & machines and even vehicles focused on promoting items to buyers and importers from around the world.
Some of the major products and services that were on displays included:
• Fuel injection pumps
• Injection nozzles
• Anti-lock braking systems
• Electronic systems to support mold and die technology
• Research & development Centers
• ECUs, sonar and central locking systems
At the beginning of 2012 (between January to March), Thailand's automotive industry produced close to 191,000 auto units of which 47% were exported to Japan, ASEAN, US and European markets. Of the automobiles, the majority of the cars produced were double cab pickups followed by passenger cards. The SUVs were the least produced and exported this year so far.
In regards to the OEM auto-parts, the exports valued up to over US 36.6 million Dollars in January.
Looking at the trend since 2005 and expected export till 2015, sales have been progressively increasing, except for 2009 and 2011 due to economical and flood crisis during those years.