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Mazda2 from Thailand too

Thai one on: A new factory in Thailand has opened the door for Mazda Australia to import its Mazda2 duty free.

Smallest Mazda could join the list of light-cars from low-cost Thailand

Mazda logo9 Oct 2009

By MARTON PETTENDY

MAZDA Australia is investigating the possibility of importing its Mazda2 hatchback from a new factory in Thailand – a move that could significantly reduce the price of the Japanese brand’s smallest model here.

Mazda Motor Corporation this week announced the start of Mazda2 production at its new plant in Thailand, which has a free trade agreement with Australia, dispensing with the 10 per cent duty rate for passenger cars (five per cent from January).

However, because the tax is applied pre-GST, the retail price advantage of new vehicles imported from Thailand, which also has lower labour costs than in Japan and Europe, is substantial.

Some experts suggest the average Thai-built light-sized car could be up to $1000 more affordable in showrooms, depending on how much of the cost-saving is passed on to consumers.

Consequently, Ford Australia has already announced it will source its Fiesta hatch – currently built in Germany – plus a new sedan derivative, from the same Thailand plant from mid-2010. The facility is a joint-venture between Mazda and Ford, dubbed AutoAlliance Thailand (AAT).

22 center imageFord Australia communications manager Sinead McAlary confirmed Ford Australia would import its Fiestas from Thailand from the middle of next year .

“Apart from shortening the timeframe between order and delivery, obviously we think it will help us to be extremely (price) competitive, but it’s far too early to talk about specific pricing,” she said.

The $500 million AAT factory will supply a range of ASEAN nations with both Fiesta and Mazda2 models, and Mazda spokesman Steve Maciver has confirmed that Australia could be one of them.

“We’re obviously aware of what’s going on at Mazda at a global level and at this stage Mazda2 production in Thailand is confirmed only for South East Asian countries from next year,” said Mr Maciver.

“But it is an option for us that we’re looking at,” he said, before adding: “The duty drop still makes Thailand an attractive place to import cars from, but I can’t go into specific price changes that may occur as a result at this stage.”

Australia’s 1.5-litre Mazda2, which is now imported from Japan, is currently priced from $16,390 (three-door) and $17,390 (five-door), while the Fiesta starts at a respective $16,450 and $17,190.

The replacement for Toyota’s Yaris, which was Australia’s top-selling light-car before Hyundai’s Korean-built Getz (priced from a rock-bottom $13,990) superseded it this year, is also expected to be imported from Thailand.

Currently, the Japanese-built Yaris is priced from $15,690 (three-door), $16,890 (five-door) and $19,040 (sedan).

Like all of Australia’s Japanese-brand utilities, most of Honda Australia’s passenger car range now hails from Thailand, including the five-door Jazz (which is priced from $16,990) and the closely related light-sized City sedan (from $20,490).

In the face of the first passenger cars arriving from China next year, Malaysia’s Proton has flagged its intention to set a new price benchmark with the November release of a light sedan to be known as the S16, priced from under $13,000 driveaway.

Suzuki’s Indian-sourced Alto micro-hatch currently has the lowest manufacturers’ list price (excluding statutory and dealer delivery fees) of any new car in Australia at $12,490, but the Japanese small-car specialist hopes to source the similarly sized Splash hatch for Australia when it is eventually produced in Thailand.

Similarly, an all-new light-car from Nissan, which could replace the Micra, has also been confirmed for production from March 2010 in Thailand, which produced 154,000 vehicles last year and is rapidly becoming an automotive production powerhouse within Asia.

Mazda this week held an official opening ceremony for its new joint-venture passenger car plant in Rayong’s Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate, attended by company director and senior managing executive officer Masazumi Wakayama and managing executive officer Yuji Nakamine from Hiroshima.

It says the Thai-made Mazda2, which will be the brand’s core model in the ASEAN region, is expected to attract 20,000 sales a year across Asia.

“The Thai-produced Mazda2 will be a key element in Mazda’s future growth in the ASEAN region, which is continuing to see growing demand for small cars,” said Mr Wakayama before the ceremony.

“We consider that the Mazda2 model will also play a pivotal role in Mazda’s global strategy. I firmly believe that the Mazda2 being built at our state-of-the-art facility in Thailand will make an immense contribution toward establishing the Mazda brand in ASEAN markets and will be our main driving force in the region as we go forward.”

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