Ford to boost Thailand Ranger/Everest output

Graeme Roberts December 8, 2021 (Last Updated December 8th, 2021 13:48)

Big plans include more robots, an extra shift and more workers.

Ford to boost Thailand Ranger/Everest output

Ford reportedly is spending US$900m to upgrade factories in Thailand which build the Ranger pickup truck and Everest SUV.

Reuters said this was the automaker’s largest investment in the country.

The plan includes a near doubling of the number of robots at its Thai manufacturing plant and at AutoAlliance Thailand, a joint venture with Mazda Motor, while $400m would go towards the supply chain.

Ford would add a second shift at its plant, adding 1,250 new jobs, bringing its workforce in Thailand to more than 9,000, Reuters said.

Ford is able to produce around 270,000 vehicles a year in Thailand, director of communications Thailand and ASEAN markets, Kamolchanok Prasertsom, told the news agency.

About 60% is exported to Asia-Pacific markets including Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines where its pickup trucks are popular.

Ranger is consistently a top selling model in both Australia and New Zealand.

“If demand increases in the future, the proportion is adjusted on a monthly basis,” Prasertsom told Reuters, adding that the export market was robust.

Factory upgrades would allow the company to better customise production for vehicles such as open cabs and four-door pickups to match demand.

Reuters noted the move contrasted with closures of three Ford plants in Brazil this year, part of a $11bn global restructuring and its strategy to achieve 8% global operating margins.

Ford is also pulling out of production in India where it has long struggled to make profit.

Thailand is Asia’s fourth largest auto assembly and export hub, accounting for about 10% of the country’s GDP and manufacturing jobs.

Last year, General Motors sold its Thai factories to China’s Great Wall Motor, which has begun producing SUVs and plans to make electric vehicles in the country.

Thailand’s state-owned energy firm PTT has said it would invest $1bn to $2bn in an EV plant with Taiwan’s Foxconn, Reuters added.

Ford also builds the Ranger in the US and South Africa.