Thai deputy prime minister announces SAIC plant

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SAIC Motor has agreed to build up to 100,000 pick-up trucks a year in Thailand. The new truck is a rival for the likes of Great Wall’s upcoming Steed and a raft of Japanese and American one-tonners – is in the final stages of development in China where it will go on the market next year under SAIC’s alternative LCV brand, Maxus, alongside the V80 and G10 vans.

It is unclear if this is that same vehicle that is being proposed for production in Thailand which is regarded as the global hub of one-tonne pick-up manufacturing, exporting thousands of vehicles such as the Toyota HiLux and Ford Everest across the world.

The vehicles will be built by SAIC’s Chinese-Thai joint venture, SAIC Motor-CP, at Rayong, where the organization announced in May that it planned to build a second plant at a cost of between 30 and 40 billion baht.

The new factory will more than triple the company’s Thai production capacity from 50,000 to 150,000 units a year, and in Thailand’s currently depressed auto production, this is very welcome news.

Pick-up production in Thailand would give SAIC ready access to the ASEAN market while also – potentially – providing duty free access to the Australian and New Zealand markets along with relatively low-cost shipping.

SAIC’s other export brand, MG, also has considered shipping at least one model from Thailand to Australia at some point after the brand returns to the Australian market in October, although the three models – the MG6, MG3 and GS – all will come from China initially.

The pick-up is likely to surface at next year’s 2017 Auto China in Shanghai in April. The SUV will come later, most likely with a 2018 start date.