A new Subaru assembly plant opens in Thailand
The first Subaru assembly plant in Asia outside of Japan has recently opened in Bangkok, Thailand.
On April 23, 2019, Tan Chong International Limited (TCIL) officially unveiled the Tan Chong Subaru Automotive Thailand (TCSAT). It occupies more than 100,000 square meters in Bangkok’s Ladkrabang Industrial Estate. This is the first plant outside Japan to fully produce Subaru cars in Asia.
TCIL–a Hong Kong-listed motor, property, and distribution company based in Singapore–partnered with Japan’s Subaru Corporation for this venture. With an initial investment of ฿5 billion (Thailand Baht), the plant will deliver more than 6,000 units of the fifth-generation Subaru Forester in its first year to meet the growing demand in Southeast Asia.
Thailand’s status as an automotive hub, with many Japanese automakers, established suppliers of components and strong localisation ability, meant the plant could be started up quickly and at a reasonable cost. In addition, trade
agreements in ASEAN, further allow the cars to be competitively built and exported to meet growing demand.
The fifth-generation Subaru Forester is the first completely knocked-down (CKD) model to be assembled at TCSAT. Reported record sales from the Bangkok International Motor Show last March show just how strong consumer interest is in the Subaru Forester.
The Subaru Forester features all four Subaru core technologies: the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive that sends power to all four wheels to be able to drive in even the harshest conditions, the Boxer Engine that enables a lower center of gravity for better stability and handling, the EyeSight Driver-Assist Technology alerts drivers to unanticipated risks and helps prevent accidents, and the Subaru Global Platform that elevates overall safety and performance with a new body and chassis design.
The right-hand-drive cars will be distributed in Thailand, Malaysia, and Cambodia, while left-hand-drive models will be sent to Vietnam. Motor Image Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of TCIL, will be on top of distribution operations. As of yet, some 100 cars have already been delivered to customers in Thailand.
Mr. Glenn Tan, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of TCIL, said, “This is truly a milestone for us, to be able to build Subaru cars ourselves in Thailand. From distribution, dealerships and aftersales, we are now also manufacturing Subaru cars. This strategic long- term move will allow us to better manage our supply chain, widen our product line up, localise better and be less dependent on supply from Japan. We will be better able to respond and meet consumer demand for Subaru vehicles in the region, and perhaps even beyond the region in future.”
WATCH: Assembling a Subaru Forester
World class vehicles produced locally
Joining the assembly line at TCSAT are a team of Japanese staff to ensure that production standards and processes meet the same stringent levels as in Japan. In addition, high-performance robotics are used at several stages of the assembly process to ensure superior quality and zero defects.
At the painting line, the pre-treatment, electrical deposits, primer, and top coat are applied automatically. The actual painting process, which is done by giant robot arms, takes only about three minutes.
The key welding points of the car body and the sealer application for glass components are also automated to achieve total consistency. This is part of the technology and skills knowledge transfer committed by Subaru Corporation.
Quality control and correction processes take place during and throughout the assembly process. This is complemented by regular production audits by Subaru Corporation.
Among the unique features of the plant include a test track, specially built to assess the condition of every car before they leave the factory. The robust quality control procedures ensure that every car produced at TCSAT is safe, comfortable and reliable.
TCSAT employs more than 400 highly-skilled local workers, plus expatriates from Japan and Singapore who will share their technical and management expertise to the local. A committee oversees the overall safety standards of the plant and proactively identifies and isolates potential risks. This is part of TCSAT’s aim to provide a safe and healthy work environment for its staff.
Besides personal protective equipment worn by all staff and visitors at designated areas, all management staff are also trained to adhere to local regulations and global practices. To further promote staff health
and well-being, the canteen serves nutritious Thai and Japanese meals. Leisure areas, such as a futsal field also cater to the staff’s recreation needs.