Ford calls time on eco-car participation

Yukontorn: Facts on the ground changed

US carmaker Ford Motor Co has finally decided to withdraw from the government’s eco-car scheme, saying the incentive models do not have enough potential to be keen on eco-friendly models.

Yukontorn Wisadkosin, the newly appointed president of Ford Asean, said the Michigan-based parent firm will not renew the Board of Investment (BoI) privileges for the second phase of the eco-car project.

Ford applied for the scheme at the end of March 2014 and later again in October 2014, and has been granted BoI incentives for an investment of 18.2 billion baht to produce eco-friendly cars at Ford Thailand Manufacturing, a complex in Rayong province with an annual production capacity for 180,000 vehicles and 2,000 engines.

Ms Yukontorn said during the time that Ford decided to join the eco-car project, the local car market was very bullish with more than 1 million cars sold in 2012-13 before dropping to around 800,000 cars in a later years.

“We had to re-evaluate the overall sentiment in the industry and consider which segments we are good at, and we decided not to renew the eco-car privileges,” said Ms Yukontorn.

The second phase of eco-car scheme was launch around October 2013 with 10 carmakers applying for the BoI incentives.

The combined investment was worth 139 billion baht, around 100 billion baht more than the combined outlay of the five eco-car makers that took part in the first phase.

The 10 carmakers aim to produce 1.58 million eco-cars. General Motors was the first carmaker to officially announce it was exiting the eco-car project in February 2015.

But Ms Yukontorn said Thailand remains the production hub for Ford with two plants in Rayong, both wholly-owned joint ventures with Japan’s Mazda. The two facilities have a combined capacity of 315,000 units per year.

Ford also operates an assembly facility in Hai Duong, Vietnam, making 20,000 units annually.

Ms Yukontorn, who is also the managing director of Ford Thailand, said 2017 was Ford’s best year for local sales, with 43,927 cars sold from January to October, up by 37% year-on-year.

Ford’s market share rose by 1.2 percentage points to 6.4% as of October, ranking sixth in the market.

The Ford Ranger pickup is the main segment of its total sales, accounting for nearly 80% of total sales with 34,608 units being sold during January to October, up by 45.6% year-on-year.

Ford is ranked in the third spot in the Thai pickup segment, after Isuzu and Toyota.

Moreover, Ford is keen on sport-utility vehicles with Thai-made Everest and EcoSport, but it is downbeat in the passenger car segment due to defects in Ford Fiesta and Focus.

In Asean, Ford sold 96,147 cars from January to October, up by 16%, mainly driven by sales from Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, respectively.

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