AFG looks into the crystal ball

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The very dynamic Automotive Focus Group (AFG) opened their book for 2017 by presenting a discussion paper on “The Current State of the Thailand Automotive Industry”.

It began with President Frank Holzer (MHG) presenting the sales figures which indicated that sales during 2016 were down by 2.3 percent, ending up with a total just short of 700,000 vehicles.

Movement within the manufacturers was interesting, with Toyota still the major player earning 32 percent of the market, but total numbers down 9 percent, which Toyota will be looking at very heavily.

Not every Tier One was looking down, with Mazda up 12 percent and Ford up 15 percent.

On the other side of the ledger, Nissan and Chevrolet both down 16 percent is a worry on both sides of the Pacific.

It was felt that there will be no new investments in the automotive sector, including Phase 2 of the Eco-car scheme with only Mitsubishi and Nissan meeting the commitment required in Phase 1.

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) feels that new investments in the country’s automotive sector, including the second phase of the eco-car scheme, are unlikely this year and next, as existing production is enough to serve both domestic sales and exports. The federation forecasts eco-car manufacturers will start investing in the second phase of the eco-car scheme by 2019.

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), the manufacturer of Subaru cars, has announced plans to form a joint venture in February with TC Manufacturing and Assembly (Thailand) Ltd. (TCMA TH), a subsidiary of Tan Chong International Ltd., to start production of Subaru vehicles in Thailand. The joint venture, to be set up next month, aims to begin production in 2019.

Another mover, even if not quite a shaker, Vera Automotive, founded on Oct 7, 2015 by five Thai engineers from King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL) is a new “Thai” marque.

This was certainly news to the AFG members, with details including the maximum speed of the Vera V1 is up to 105 kilometers an hour. It can run up to 180 km per charge, which takes six hours to complete.

Co-founder Wanchai Meesiri said all Vera cars are designed by Thai engineers under the Thai brand, but the company has hired the Chinese carmaker Geely Automotive to produce the BEVs. The company imports the cars as completely built-up (CBU) vehicles to Thailand.

It was also pointed out to the members that the IATF (International Automotive Task Force) published a revised automotive industry standard in October 2016, and is referred to as IATF 16949. This is aligned with and refers to ISO 9001:2015, fully respecting its structure and requirements, including Customer Specific Requirements (CSRs).

Key Changes IATF 16949

1. Requirements for safety-related parts and processes.

2. Enhanced product traceability requirements to support latest regulatory changes.

3. Requirements for products with embedded software.

4. Warranty management process including addressing NTF (no trouble found) and use of automotive industry guidance.

5. Clarification of sub-tier supplier management and development requirements.

6. Addition of corporate responsibility requirements.

The AFG meeting concluded with a social networking in the Ice Bar in the Amari Tower.