Published on April 23rd, 2019 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Thailand gets first Subaru plant in Asia outside of Japan
Tan Chong International Limited (TCIL)officially unveiled its first Subaru assembly plant, occupying more than100,000m2 in Bangkok’s Ladkrabang Industrial Estate today. This is the firstplant outside Japan to fully produce Subaru cars in Asia.
With an initial investment of ฿5 billion,the plant will deliver more than 6,000 Subaru Foresters in its first operatingyear to meet demand for Subaru vehicles in Southeast Asia.
Tan Chong Subaru Automotive (Thailand)Limited (TCSAT) is a joint venture between Hong Kong-listed TCIL and Japan’sSubaru Corporation. TCIL, headquartered in Singapore, holds a 74.9 per centstake through its subsidiary, TC Manufacturing and Assembly (Thailand) Limited,while Subaru Corporation holds the remaining 25.1 per cent.
Thailand’s status as an automotive hub,with many Japanese automakers, established suppliers of components and stronglocalisation ability, meant the plant could be started up quickly and at areasonable cost. In addition, trade agreements in ASEAN, further allow the carsto be competitively built and exported to meet growing demand.
The fifth-generation Subaru Forester is thefirst completely knocked-down (CKD) model to be assembled at TCSAT. The carswill be distributed in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia by Motor ImageGroup, a wholly owned subsidiary of TCIL.
Some 100 cars have already been deliveredto customers in Thailand. Motor Image also reported record sales figures at theBangkok International Motor Show in March, largely contributed by strongconsumer interest in the Subaru Forester.
Mr Glenn Tan, Deputy Chairman and ManagingDirector of TCIL, said, “This is truly a milestone for us, to be able to buildSubaru cars ourselves in Thailand. From distribution, dealerships andaftersales, we are now also manufacturing Subaru cars. This strategic long-term move will allow us to better manage our supply chain, widen our productline up, localise better and be less dependent on supply from Japan. We will bebetter able to respond and meet consumer demand for Subaru vehicles in theregion, and perhaps even beyond the region in future.”
Worldclass vehicles produced locally
TCSAT employs a team of Japanese staff toensure that production standards and processes meet the same stringent levelsas in Japan. In addition, high-performance robotics are used at several stagesof the assembly process to ensure superior quality and zero defects. At thepainting line, the pre-treatment, electrical deposits, primer and top coat areapplied automatically.
The key welding points of the car body andthe sealer application for glass components are also automated to achieve totalconsistency. This is part of the technology and skills knowledge transfer whichSubaru Corporation has committed to.
Quality control and correction processestake place during and throughout the assembly process. This is complemented byregular production audits by Subaru Corporation. Some of the unique features ofthe plant include a test track, specially built to assess the condition ofevery car before they leave the factory. The robust quality control proceduresensure that every car produced at TCSAT is safe, comfortable and reliable.
Occupationalsafety and health
TCSAT employs more than 400 highly-skilledlocal workers. Expatriates from Japan and Singapore are also based in Thailandto share their technical and management expertise. TCSAT aims to provide a safeand healthy work environment for its staff. A committee oversees the overallsafety standards of the plant and proactively identifies and isolates potentialrisks.
Personal protective equipment is worn byall staff and visitors at designated areas. All management staff are trained byexternal consultants on local regulations and global practices. To furtherpromote staff health and well-being, the canteen serves nutritious Thai andJapanese meals. Leisure areas, such as a futsal field, cater to staffrecreation needs.
Control,drivability and performance
Like the made-in-Japan model, the SubaruForester assembled in Thailand provides ruggedness and space for the whole family.The Subaru Forester features all four Subaru core technologies. The SymmetricalAll-Wheel Drive sends power to all four wheels to give drivers a reliable drivein even the harshest conditions.
The Boxer Engine enables a lower centre ofgravity for better stability and handling. The EyeSight Driver-AssistTechnology alerts drivers to unanticipated risks and helps prevent accidents.The Subaru Global Platform elevates overall safety and performance with a newbody and chassis design. It was given a Good Design Award by the JapanInstitute of Design Promotion last year.