SOUTH KOREA: Hyundai plans Thai assembly plant - report

By just-auto.com editorial team | 8 October 2003

Hyundai plans to be the first South Korean car maker to set up a car assembly plant in Thailand as it struggles to catch up with its Japanese rivals in the Southeast Asian market, a spokesman told Reuters on Tuesday.

Spokesman Jake Jang told the news agency Hyundai is seeking a local partner and a site to build a plant to assemble completely knocked down kits next year.

"Talks with a Thai partner are in the final stage," Jang reportedly said, adding: "We are aiming to establish an assembly line that can produce about 20,000 units per year."

He declined to name the prospective local partner and the size of investments, Reuters said, and added that Hyundai has found it difficult to sell cars to Thailand due to high tariffs of 80% imposed on imported passenger cars.

The move would help spur its sales not only in Thailand but in the rest of the region - Hyundai sold only three Sonata EF sedans to Thailand last year, Reuters noted.

With car sales growing more than 30% in the year to date, Thailand is Southeast Asia's fastest growing market, although pickups make up more than half the demand, Reuters said.