News - Ford - Focus
Thai plant starts producing top-dog Focus
Ford Oz’s new sales leader – Focus – set to roll out of $450 million Thai factory
3 May 2012
FORD Motor Company today officially opened a new $450 million factory in Thailand that is set to supply Ford’s top-selling car in Australia in 2012, the Focus, as well as related vehicles such as the new-generation Kuga.
Supplies of Focus bound for Australian showrooms are set to switch from Saarlouis, in Germany, to Thailand by September, although the car is expected to be fundamentally the same as the current five-door hatch and sedan range that was introduced last August.
The move allows Ford to take advantage of Australia’s free trade agreement with Thailand, which will slice five per cent from the landed cost of the vehicle, while also shorting the supply line.
The new Ford Thai Manufacturing plant will have a production capacity of 150,000 vehicles a year, boosting annual Thai Ford production to 445,000 vehicles.
Ford Australia already sources its Australian-developed Ranger ute from Thailand, where it is produced for global markets alongside the related Mazda BT-50 in a Ford-Mazda joint-venture AutoAlliance plant that is also set to get a $27 million expansion to lift production by 20,000 units a year.
The AutoAlliance operation also produces the Ford Fiesta for Australia, alongside the similar Mazda2 light car that initially was shipped to Australia before Mazda Australia switched its sourcing back to Japan due to supply constraints in Thailand.
From top: Ford Kuga SUV and Ford Focus sedan and interior.
The new Thai Ford plant at Rayong is capable of producing up to six models, with the Blue Oval company planning to expand its range of offerings in South-East Asia and, potentially, Australia and New Zealand.
GoAuto understands that the latest Kuga compact SUV – based on the same small-car platform as the Focus – will enter production there alongside the Focus from 2013.
Ford Australia recently introduced the superseded Kuga into local showrooms as an interim measure until the new-generation vehicle that was unveiled in March at the Geneva motor show can go into production at the new Thai plant.
Like all manufacturers dependent on Thailand, Ford lost considerable production in last year’s Thai floods, mainly due to the impact on parts suppliers devastated by the deluge.
However, Ford Asia, Pacific and Africa president Joe Hinrichs said Ford remained committed to Thailand as a production hub.
Mr Hinrichs recently announced a major expansion of Ford’s Chinese manufacturing operations, with a plan to double production there from the current 600,000 units a year to 1.2 million by 2015.
So far this year, the Focus has been a winner for Ford Australia, with sales up 42 per cent.
Focus is now Ford’s biggest-selling vehicle in Australia, outselling the locally made Falcon and Territory.
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