Great Wall Motors (GWM), China’s largest manufacturer of sports utility vehicles and one of its biggest manufacturers of pick-ups, plans to invest around R2.7 billion in a new SUV production plant in Thailand.
Deputy general manager, Wang Shi Hui, said the plant, covering an area of 800 000 m2, will deliver 100 000 vehicles per year. The investment will take place over two phases, with each phase adding 50 000 vehicles to the overall production capacity.
The exact location of the plant has not been disclosed, but it’s likely to be established on an industrial estate in Rayong province. Construction is scheduled to start by the end of 2013, with commercial production due to begin in 2015.
The Thailand plant will be GWM’s sixth overseas SUV assembly plant in addition to facilities in Bulgaria, Iran, Malaysia, Russia and Senegal. All the plants serve both domestic and export markets in their own region.
GWM plans to raise its global annual production capacity to 1.5 million vehicles and realise a sales target of 1.3 million by 2015. GWM vehicles are exported to more than 100 countries and the company has sales networks in about 80. Europe, Central and South America, Asia, Africa and Australia are its major export markets.
Thailand is the largest vehicle manufacturer in Southeast Asia and falls within the global top ten. Most manufacturers are Japanese, but there has been increasing interest from Chinese auto manufacturers including Chery Automobile and Dongfeng Motor Corp.
Mr Wang said that GWM decided on Thailand due to its significant growth rate, good infrastructure, sufficient auto parts supplies and competitive wage structures.