Toyota considers exporting cars from Thailand

Senior executive says Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) might be starting exports of subcompact cars for sale from Thailand into other markets.

Yukitoshi Funo, Executive VP, Toyota and also board member says Toyota is already producing two twin subcompacts and also a clone (Etios) in Thailand. They are looking into producing a new car based on Etios platform and considering exporting them to outside markets.

Mr. Funo says Toyota considers exports from Thailand and that the car would be similar in size to Etios and are attempting to aggressively push similar-sized vehicles globally.

Toyota had indeed discussed possibilities of such exports of Thailand-made subcompact cars to Japanese market in the forthcoming future, but Funo says looking into the current trend in Japanese market it’s quite a difficult situation for now.

Toyota considers exporting cars from ThailandCompany spokesman of Toyota, Masami Dio, on Thursday, confirmed that Toyota isn’t currently looking into exporting cars from Thailand into the Japanese market.

The options of utilizing Thailand as a platform for exports of cars did come as exports from Toyota’s Japan base was hurt by the rise in Yen that was recording against the levels of the dollar.

An executive from Toyota says it’s now producing two subcompacts in Thailand and also a clone called Etios in the Indian market. Toyota is now considering an export based on the Etios.

Funo told in an attempt to combat a rise in the Yen, which is currently at ¥77 to one dollar in comparison to ¥120 in about 2007, Toyota would also increase their parts that are foreign made for imports to their vehicle assembly in Japanese factories.  The imported parts or components might include those done in South Korea, which has become a driving force globally in automobile industry.

The rise in the Yen has hit the roof in the past weeks eventually hurting exporters from Japan that made their products expensive globally eating up values of revenue obtained in dollars. Concurrently, strong Yen values have made it cheap to be importing vehicles into Japan.

Rivals of Toyota have made their move taking advantage of cheaper production costs available outside of Japan. Nissan Motors has been using their production facility in Thailand utilizing it as a base for exports and in March would be selling them in Japan, its compact cars, which are built in Southeast Asian countries. Likewise, Mitsubishi is also planning production of their small cars to be sold globally in Thailand.

The Thailand Government have been encouraging moves made by auto manufacturers, and they do offer incentives in tax to manufacturers that produce small vehicles that are fuel efficient. Incentives provided by Thailand Government are helping auto manufacturers as the profit margin by selling compact cars is thin.

In an attempt to keep the company’s focus on upcoming markets, Toyota did launch the Etios, a cost effective small car in India. The latter part of 2012 would see Toyota planning compact car production at its new facility in Brazil, which would be sharing Etios’ elements.

MD of a local unit of Ford Motors, Michael Boneham, says they aim to increase their car exports from India globally to around 50 countries where previously it was 32 countries.

Currently, Toyota is seen producing its Vios and Yaris subcompact cars at a Thailand factory. They are also making a subcompact car to its Japanese market built with the same elements that’s called Vitz at Miyagi, a new factory in Japan. Toyota is currently importing cars to Japan in the form of Avensis, a 5-door sedan produced in Britain.

Funo, who’s heading global marketing at Toyota, says Japan’s biggest auto manufacturer is committed to their production base domestically and would be keeping output in the Japanese market at 3 million vehicles or above yearly.

Funo says the workforce in Japan for its Toyota products is unmatchable and feels it’s difficult to keep the same momentum in other countries immediately in its factories outside of Japan and voices that’s one reason which is creating problems in manufacturing hybrid vehicles in China. He says to produce the Prius isn’t easy in China.

This made Toyota shut down its assembly unit for older-generation Prius (hybrid) in China in 2009 that used imports from Japan for components.

Funo says last month the company did launch an upgrade to the Camry sedan in the United States and would take whatever necessary steps it takes ensuring the car keeps to its name as the top selling car in United States and that included aggressive utilization of incentives.

He told, however, the current trend in the Unites States market seems to be challenging because of an overall demand drop for trucks and cars stating the downward trend in the United States market and inconsistent economy as key factors to the dip.

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