Business News - Monday December 17, 2007
AUTOMOBILES MANUFACTURING MILESTONE
Thai Honda stepping up its R&D ahead of celebrations
Honda has pledged to reinforce its research and development (R&D) activities in Thailand as its Thai unit celebrates the one millionth car produced from its Ayutthaya factory last week.
To meet the growing and diversifying demand for Honda products, the Japanese auto company would fully transfer R&D to Thailand as part of its plan to accelerate the regional R&D functions for automobiles for the Asia/Oceania market, including development of locally-produced parts, product planning, styling research and testing of complete cars.
Honda R&D Asia Pacific Co, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honda, was established in late 2005 to handle the R&D functions. A 2.4-billion-baht test track was planned as an integral part of R&D activities.
Honda Automobile (Thailand) Co, the local manufacturer of Honda cars, said the one-million-car mark was another significant milestone for Honda since the first ''made in Thailand'' Honda vehicle was produced in 1984.
''This accomplishment of one million total cumulative production in Thailand is not only a testament to consumer trust in the Honda brand but also a strong vote of confidence in our people, technology and design innovations,'' said president Kenji Otaka.
Thailand has become a strategic manufacturing base for Honda vehicles in the Asia Pacific region through a series of well-timed investments, technology and skills transfer made over the past 23 years.
Honda's recent investment of 6.2 billion baht in a second factory adjacent to the existing one in Ayutthaya will double its vehicle production to 240,000 units when completed in late 2008.
The new plant would incorporate clean technologies, making it one of the cleanest auto manufacturing facilities in the world.
''Through our pioneering research, next generation technologies and innovative designs, we are constantly raising the standards for quality manufacturing and enhancing customer satisfaction,'' said Mr Otaka.
Honda vehicles and auto parts made in Thailand are exported to 14 countries for assembly kits and to more than 30 countries for fully built vehicles.
Honda's plant in Thailand is its sixth largest in the world.