BANGKOK Nov 29 Fears of slow growth in the
United States for years to come and a wallowing Europe are
spurring Ford Motor Co to focus its expansion efforts, the
largest in over half a century, on Asia.
"We have massive investments going on globally and really at
an unprecedented rate for us. We have very ambitious growth
plans built on global products. Our plan is very aggressive and
a lot of it is based here in Asia," said Bill Ford, executive
chairman of Ford, while speaking to journalists at a roundtable
in Bangkok on Thursday.
Ford also said that a Chinese nationalist backlash against
Japanese auto manufacturers - spurred by a Sino-Japanese
territorial disputes over the Diaoyu or Senakaku islands in the
East China Sea - is boosting sales for the American company in
"I think that we're doing very well in China. Our share is
up and our sales are up, but one needs to be cautious. These
things ebb and flow," said Ford. "There's no question there's
been an effect, but we're not really building our business on
Other non-Japanese car makers are refusing to disclose
whether Chinese sales have risen during the ongoing maritime
REGIONAL EXPORT HUBS
Thailand will be one of the foundations of Ford's business
in Asia, with the company intending to use it as a regional
export hub for the rest of the Association of Southeast Asian
More than 90 percent of Ford's production for the 10
countries of ASEAN is in Thailand, where vehicle manufacturing
capacity is 445,000 units per year.
"We have big plans for Thailand and we have big plans for
the region," said Ford.
Those plans involve the construction of nine new plants.
Ford's second plant in Thailand, costing $450 million, opened in
Rayong in May 2012. In China the company recently started
operating a new plant in Chongqing.
Five factories in China and two in India are currently under
construction. When these plants are completed, Ford's production
capacity in the region will double to 2.9 million vehicles per
year by mid-decade.
There are risks associated with the region however. In late
2011 Thailand was struck by devastating floods, ravaging the
region's auto manufacturers.
Ford praised its supplier network and their rapid recovery
from the floods, which were responsible for supply chain
disruptions and a key contributor to an $83 million loss for
Ford's Asia-Pacific region in the fourth quarter of last year.
Despite the risks and pressures from things like relatively
high Thai wages and rival Indonesia providing cheaper auto
manufacturing, Ford stressed Thailand would remain central to
its regional strategy.
"This region is where the action is and that's going to be
true off into the future," Ford said.