Isuzu to double heavy truck production in Thailand, boost exports

BANGKOK, NNA - Japan's Isuzu Motors Ltd. is preparing to double its heavy-duty truck production capacity in Thailand this year in a bid to increase exports to Southeast Asian markets.

The company recently invested further in its heavy truck plant located in Thailand's central province of Chachoengsao in order to double its annual production output of 25,000-26,000 vehicles. Thailand-produced trucks mostly cater to the domestic market at present, according to Toshiaki Maekawa, president of Isuzu's local distributor, Tri Petch Isuzu Sales Co.

The Japanese carmaker expects to start exporting heavy trucks 2 tons or larger in loaded weight, both built-up and knocked-down, to meet huge demand in Southeast Asian countries in the near future.

Maekawa said the region's potential markets for heavy trucks include Indonesia, which is tenfold bigger than Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Last Tuesday, Isuzu unveiled a range of six new heavy models dubbed the "King of Trucks" for the first time in Thailand with prices from 1.8 to 3.4 million baht (about $52,000-98,000). The new models are locally made and also expected to be exported to other regional markets.

Isuzu earmarked Thailand as a strategic hub for heavy trucks in Southeast Asia in 2014 when it decided to set up a research and development center in the country working on the "King of Trucks" series.

The company's Japanese R&D center for heavy trucks is working for the United States, European and Australian markets.

Isuzu forecast its heavy truck sales in Thailand will hit 13,000 vehicles this year, up from last year's 12,000, maintaining its 49 percent market share and its sector-leading position.

The company predicted sales of trucks weighing over 2 fully-loaded tons overall in Thailand this year will reach 26,000-27,000 vehicles, similar to last year's performance.

The heavy truck market is thriving mainly on government investment in infrastructure development projects, better pricing of consumer goods and tax breaks for local entrepreneurs who spend on commercial vehicles. (NNA/Kyodo)