With the unveiling of its all-new Ranger pick-up, Ford has announced plans to upgrade its manufacturing facilities that build the truck in Thailand. The Blue Oval says it is pumping in US$900 million (RM3.79 billion) into refreshing the factories, its largest-ever investment in the kingdom.
More than half the amount will be spent to almost double the number of robots at its Ford Thailand Manufacturing plant in Rayong and at AutoAlliance Thailand, its joint venture with Mazda that is located nearby. The remaining US$400 million (RM1.68 billion) of the investment will go towards refining and upgrading its supply chain network, Reuters reports.
The automaker is also set to add a second shift to the FTM facility, which also builds the Everest SUV. As many as 1,250 new jobs are expected to be created, which will increase its workforce in Thailand to more than 9,000 personnel.
The company, which is able to produce around 270,000 vehicles annually in Thailand, said that 60% of its production is exported to Asia-Pacific markets such as Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines. Production of the new Ranger will begin in Thailand – and South Africa – starting from early next year.
It said that the factory upgrades will allow it to better customise production for vehicles such as open cabs and four-door pick-ups to match demand. “If demand increases in the future, the proportion will be adjusted on a monthly basis,” said Kamolchanok Prasertsom, the company’s director of communications for Thailand and ASEAN markets.
The automaker’s heavy investment in Thailand contrasts with the closure of three of its plants in Brazil this year, part of a US$11 billion (RM46.1 billion) global restructuring plan and a strategy for it to achieve 8% global operating margins. Ford is also ending production in India, where it has long struggled to make a profit.
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