Thai-builtredesigned  Nissan Micra/March uses Contis parts, is exported back to Japan in place of locally made predecessor

Thai-builtredesigned Nissan Micra/March uses Conti's parts, is exported 'back' to Japan in place of locally made predecessor

Continental plans to expand its operations in Thailand to meet growing demand from automakers in the ASEAN region and globally. The company’s existing facility in Rayong became operational in June 2009 following investments of over EUR90m.

Thomas Chambers, managing director of Continental Automotive (Thailand), said the German parent company wants to eventually add up to five new product lines to its Thai operations as it seeks to expand organically in the region. 

He suggested that vehicle production in Thailand alone is expected to reach 2m units by 2015, while sales across the ASEAN region are forecast to increase to 3m units “in the next few years”.

Thailand's first eco-car model, the Nissan March/Micra, went into production earlier this year fitted with Continental powertrain, chassis & safety components. Continental hopes to supply other emerging eco-car manufacturers in the country.

The company expects to reach maximum output capacity of diesel common-rail systems of 500,000 units per year by 2012 - once GM’s new Thai engine plant is in full swing, with the export ratio falling to 30%. 

Employment at the plant will be increased from 160 to 600 by 2011, while local content in the systems will rise from 30% currently to 50%.

The next product lines being considered for local production include instrument clusters and other interior systems. The group also produces chassis systems such as braking systems, and tyres.

Rainer Doerrheide, vice-president and general manager of Continental Automotive (Thailand) said “the Rayong plant currently exports to Europe and India, but by next year it will begin serving domestic clients, as well as exporting to Latin America".