Mazda Motor and Ford have announced an additional spend of US$27m (approximately THB837m) in their AutoAlliance (Thailand) (AAT) joint venture to upgrade production equipment and increase pickup truck production capacity by 20,000 units per year.

ATT produces the recently redesigned Mazda BT-50 and Ford Ranger pickup trucks for Thai and global markets. The new investment will include facility upgrades such as additional robotic equipment and tooling to help increase line speed and output. The new capacity will come into effect starting next month.

The additional 20,000 units bring the total annual capacity of AAT’s pickup truck line to 140,000 units (195,000 units including CKD kits), bringing overall capacity to 240,000 units (295,000 with CKD) per year, including the passenger car line.

This latest spend increases Mazda and Ford’s total joint investment in the AAT facility to nearly $2bn (THB62bn) since operations began in 1995. In 2010, the two companies spent $350m (THB10.8bn) on facility upgrades and supplier tooling to build the Ranger BT-50.

“This additional AAT investment is part of the strategic business partnership between Ford and Mazda,” said Yuji Nakamine, a top director at Mazda. “Additionally, it allows us to continue to meet exceptionally strong demand for our BT-50.”

“This new investment reinforces Ford Motor Company’s long-term commitment to Thailand as a global production and export hub, and will allow us to meet the extraordinary demand for the Ranger,” said Peter Fleet, president, Ford ASEAN.

AAT also produces the Ford Everest SUV, and the Ford Fiesta, Mazda 2 and 3 for sale in Thailand and for export to ASEAN and other markets such as Australia.

Ford is due to officially open a second US$450m car plant in Rayong in May and production of the Focus will begin soon afterwards. The new plant has an annual production capacity of 150,000 units and cars built there will also be sold in Thailand and other Asia-Pacific markets.