Ford will consolidate pickup truck production in Thailand and make cars in the Philippines under a plan to rationalise vehicle production under the Asean Industrial Co-operation (Aico) programme, the Bangkok Post reported.

The plan, which takes advantage of Aico’s tariff cuts on trade within the region, will help Ford to integrate its production and boost economies of scale, the newspaper said.

The Bangkok Post said that, from next year, Ford would relocate the production of Ranger one-ton pickup trucks from the Philippines to Thailand and move assembly of [Mazda 323-based] Laser cars from Thailand to the Philippines.

As the models are now made in both countries, there is costly duplication of production facilities, the newspaper added.

Ford expects the rationalisation will boost trade in the region by more than $US1.2 billion in the next five years as the models are shipped from their new export bases, the Bangkok Post said.

Citing Ford, the newspaper said that the plan would significantly boost exports for both countries while factory specialisation would lead to large-scale manufacturing which, in turn, would expand the automotive parts industry.

In Thailand, the Bangkok Post said, Ford would be able to increase the export of parts and components for car assembly in the Philippines and raise the capacity of light-truck production in Thailand, the production base for shipments to more than 100 countries.

Komkrit Nongsawat, the spokesman for Ford’s operations in Thailand, told the newspaper that 2,000 light trucks assembled in Thailand would be shipped to the Philippines in the first year of the new plan.

The light trucks are now exported to the Philippines only as kits, not fully assembled, the newspaper added.

Projections of vehicle exports to the Philippines and other Asean nations had not yet been made, the spokesman told the Bangkok Post.

Light trucks and cars are now assembled by AutoAlliance Thailand Co, the joint venture between Ford and Mazda, in Rayong, the newspaper said.

The Bangkok Post said that Ford recently signed in Washington a memorandum with the Philippine government to take advantage of the Aico programme and outlined its plan to become the first large-volume exporter of vehicles from the Philippines.

Ford Philippines will become the production base for Laser and Escapade cars, the Bangkok Post said.

It added that Ford plans to export a total of 65,000 cars from the Philippines to Thailand and Indonesia in the next five years.