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Mitsubishi to spend $532 million on new Thai plant


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Mitsubishi to spend $532 million on new Thai plant

Geneva debut planned for factory's global compact car

Wire Reports December 9, 2010 13:31 CET

TOKYO/BANGKOK (Bloomberg) -- Mitsubishi Motors Corp., maker of the i-MiEV electric car, plans to invest 16 billion baht ($532 million) in a new Thailand plant where it will begin production of a global compact model in March 2012.

The Tokyo-based carmaker will produce 150,000 units a year of the new model, Mitsubishi said in a statement. The company aims to export the small car to overseas markets including Europe and Japan, President Osamu Masuko told reporters in Bangkok today.

Masuko said the sale price will be 400,000 baht in Thailand for the car, which will be unveiled at the Geneva auto show in March 2011.

Mitsubishi is adding the compact as competitors introduce new small cars to meet rising global demand, especially in emerging markets.

Toyota Motor Corp. began selling its new Etios compact in India this month and will also make the model in Thailand, where tax incentives and a population of 67 million are attracting investments from automakers.

Annual production capacity at Mitsubishi's third Thai plant may eventually rise to 200,000 units, the company said. The new model will be an affordable, fuel-efficient car with a 1.0- to 1.2-liter engine that will be exported from Thailand, it said.

Auto production in Thailand, Southeast Asia's second-largest economy, surged 76 percent to 1.35 million between January and October, the Thai Automotive Club, a trade group of automakers, said on Nov. 17.

Nissan Motor Co. this year moved Japan production of its Micra/March compact, designed for developed and emerging nations, to Thailand. Honda Motor Co. and General Motors Co. have also built plants in the nation, while Ford Motor Co. said in June that it plans to build a $450 million car factory in Rayong province, its first wholly owned factory in the country.

The new plant will boost Mitsubishi's production capacity in Thailand to 400,000 units a year, Masuko said.

Mitsubishi boss Masuko expects big things from the i-MiEV.

i-MiEV testing to start

Separately, Mitsubishi announced today it agreed to start a joint study with the Thai government to begin fleet tests of electric vehicles starting with the company's i-MiEV minicar.

Mitsubishi is selling the i-MiEV in Europe, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia. In addition, rebadged versions of the i-MiEV will be sold in Europe as the Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero.

Mitsubishi is collaborating on initiatives to promote EV use with governments such as Monaco, Iceland, Denmark and Singapore, among others. The Thai government will expand the country's charging infrastructure as part of the agreement.

"The popularization of EVs in Thailand will not only contribute to the reduction of environmental burdens," Masuko said in a statement, "but I also firmly believe that the popularization of EVs in Thailand will be an important aspect in bolstering Thailand's competitive edge in the next-generation vehicle industry."

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101209/ANE/312099972/1317#ixzz17d81z5yp

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