Tan Chong International Limited (TCIL) has opened a Subaru plant in Thailand to cater to the burgeoning demand for its cars in the region.
With an initial investment of 5 billion Thai baht ($212.3 million), the plant will firstly assemble units of the fifth-gen Subaru Forester from completely knocked down (CKD) kits, with “more than 6000” to be produced in the plant’s first operating year, TCIL said in a press statement.
With the new plant, Subaru is increasing its South-east Asia footprint.
The Japanese automaker has a Malaysian plant assembling the Subaru XV and Foresters from completely knocked down kits (CKD) and selling them to the Malaysian and Thai markets.
TCIL, headquartered in Singapore, holds a 74.9 percent stake through subsidiary TC Manufacturing and Assembly (Thailand) Limited, while Subaru Corporation holds the remaining 25.1 per cent.
Finished cars – 100 of which have already delivered to Thai customers – will be sold in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia by Motor Image Group, TCIL’s wholly-owned subsidiary.
Some 400 local workers will staff the plant, TCIL said, while Japanese and Singapore expatriates will be based in Thailand to share “technical and management expertise”.
The staff get to chow down on Thai and Japanese meals, while a futsal field caters to their recreation needs.
To maintain Subaru’s manufacturing standards, a team of Japanese staff will be stationed in the factory to ensure production standards and processes are identical to the ones in Japan.
Subaru has also agreed to transfer technology and skills knowledge via the automation of several areas in the production process, with the assembly, paint and welding processes involving robots.
In addition, quality control and correction processes will be complemented by “regular production audits” by Subaru Corporation.
A test track has been specially built to assess the condition of every car leaving the factory.
The Thailand plant’s opening is a “milestone” for the firm, said TCIL’s deputy chairman and managing director Glenn Tan, adding that it enables TCIL to “better manage” its supply chain and reduce dependence on supply from Japan.
Alluding to future plans, Mr Tan said the plant allows the company to meet consumer demand for Subaru vehicles in the region, and “even beyond” the region in future.