Suzuki’s new $250 million Thai plant opened on the Eastern Seaboard last month to produce Swift, initially for local markets, but that looks as if it will certainly change.
Japan has been the source of much of the world export Suzuki’s, but with the Rayong plant coming on strongly, and with the FTA’s with other ASEAN countries and Australia, it makes good sense to have the production base here in Thailand.
It was reported in the daily press last week that Suzuki’s new Thai plant would build a second small car alongside the Swift, saying it would be “based around the next-generation Alto”.
With the Alto going into production in Thailand under the ‘eco-car’ scheme that rewards manufacturers with a range of benefits, it makes sense for Suzuki Australia to switch its source from the current Suzuki Maruti factory in India. Suzuki Australia recently lost hundreds of Alto sales due to a prolonged strike at the Indian plant.
If Suzuki Australia does sign up for our local Thai production, it will join Honda, Ford, Nissan - and from later this year Mitsubishi - to source small or light cars from this country.
Toyota Australia has also expressed a desire to switch its small vehicle production to Thailand from Japan to cut costs, should production slots become available. Toyota are also looking at the Fortuner going to Australia, as well as the Vigo 1-tonner pick-up.
Suzuki have another new plant being built in China as a joint venture with Changan Automobile in the western Chinese city of Chongqing. Due to open in the third quarter of 2013, the new plant will double Suzuki production in China to 500,000 units a year. However, Suzuki expects all of the production from this plant will go into the Chinese domestic market.