The Bangkok Post reports that Ford’s UK-based SUV specialist, Land Rover, could be close to setting up a local assembly base for its Defender model. The newspaper suggests that the decision hangs on a ‘revamp of excise tax regulations’ so that they are ‘favourable to local assembly’.

The article says that sources at Land Rover revealed that Land Rover plans overseas assembly in just three countries – South Africa, Brazil and ‘probably Thailand’ – a major pick-up production hub.

Land Rover is reportedly hoping that the Thai Excise Department amends the rules on the definition of pick-ups, such as the need to employ leaf springs on the rear suspension. The Land Rover Defender currently has coil springs featured on both ends of the vehicle’s underbody and therefore does not qualify as a pick-up.

The change would allow the Defender to qualify for lower pick-up excise duty rates, making a sizeable difference to its final retail price.

Land Rover is thought to have an ambitious long-term manufacturing plan for Thailand which would see the manufacturer assembling several models in Thailand, as well as utilising ASEAN trade privileges.

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Assembly of Land Rover’s Freelander compact SUV from CKD kits in Thailand began last autumn.

The Freelander CKD models are assembled on dedicated body framing and final assembly lines at the Premier Automotive Group Volvo plant near Bangkok. Other manufacturing resources and facilities, including the paint shop, are shared with Volvo products.