Ford invests $ 900 million in manufacturing operations in Thailand
Ford Motor Co. announced this week that it will be spending $ 900 million to modernize its Thai manufacturing operations, the automaker’s largest investment in the Southeast Asian country, where it has two assembly plants.
The investment will support the production of the next generation Ranger pickup and the Everest SUV and create up to 1,250 jobs. Ford has invested more than $ 3.4 billion in Thailand over its 25-year history, according to the company.
“This is an important milestone in building on our quarter-century commitment to producing vehicles in Thailand, the world’s highest volume, most successful vehicles and the next generation Everest SUV,” said Yukontorn “Vickie” Wisadkosin, president of Ford ASEAN and Asia Pacific Distributors Markets, in a statement.
Ford executives said the investment is part of the company’s turnaround plan, according to which the automaker has realigned manufacturing in multiple regions. In September, for example, Ford announced that it would cease production in India. Earlier this year, it announced that it would cease production of cars in Brazil. It has since increased its activities in South Africa.
Ford sells vehicles locally in Thailand and also uses its production facilities there as an export base for global markets. The company operates the wholly-owned Ford Thailand Manufacturing Plant, which opened in 2012, and the AutoAlliance Thailand joint venture in Thailand, which opened in 1995, with more than 9,000 employees, the company announced.
Ford allocated approximately $ 400 million to invest in the local supply chain “to locate and improve the quality of vehicle parts and design-related tools,” and helped create about 250 new jobs, according to a press release.
The investment will be used to modernize Ford’s manufacturing facilities in Thailand by adding state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies and accompanying training for Ford employees and suppliers.
For example, the automaker plans to almost double the number of robots in its two plants in Thailand with 356 robots for use in the body and paint shops. The company said this would increase the level of automation in the body shops at Ford Thailand Manufacturing and AutoAlliance Thailand plants from 34% to 80% and 69%, respectively.
The upgrades also include the implementation of ScanBox technology, what Ford called “surface scanning capability,” which improves the time it takes to accurately measure a vehicle.
The automaker is also improving its multi-variant truck production capability at the Ford plant in Thailand. The upgrade will allow the plant to produce multiple cabin styles on the same production line, which Ford says will allow “more flexibility in planning and scheduling so the plant can respond more quickly to customer demand and reduce customer waiting times for a new vehicle.”
The next generation of the Ranger, which will be built in both Thai plants, is expected to hit the market in mid-2022. The truck is sold in more than 180 markets around the world. It is also made in Michigan and South Africa.
The AutoAlliance Thailand plant, meanwhile, will be the leading manufacturing center for the next generation Everest SUV, which Ford sells in the Asia-Pacific region but does not sell in the United States