* Demand in Thailand boosted by tax rebate
* New plant to begin operating in 2015
(Adds quotes, detail)
BANGKOK Feb 6 The Thai unit of Honda Motor
said on Wednesday it would invest more than 20 billion
baht ($673 million) to build a new assembly plant and expand an
existing factory to tap strong local demand and boost exports.
Demand for cars, already rising with growing incomes in
Thailand, has accelerated thanks to a tax rebate for first-time
buyers and pent-up demand since floods in 2011.
"We also expect global demand for Honda vehicles to grow
significantly, especially as consumers demand smaller, more fuel
efficient and more environmentally responsible vehicles," said
Hiroshi Kobayashi, President of Honda Automobiles (Thailand) Co.
Honda's main competitors there include Toyota Motor Corp
, Nissan Motor Co and Isuzu Motors.
About 17.15 billion baht ($577 million) would be used to
build the new plant in the eastern province of Prachinburi,
which will have production capacity of 120,000 units per year,
the Japanese manufacturer said in a statement.
The plant will mainly produce sub-compact models, helping
meet growing global demand.
Construction was expected to begin in July 2013 and the
plant is due to start operations in April 2015, employing about
Another 2.91 billion baht would be used to expand Honda's
existing plant in the central province of Ayutthaya, which was
badly hit by floods in late 2011 and had to close for almost six
The expansion will raise capacity there to 300,000 vehicles
by early 2014 from the target it gave of 240,000 when the plant
reopened in April last year.
($1 = 29.7250 Thai baht)
(Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong and; Pairat Temphairojana;
Editing by Alan Raybould and Tom Pfeiffer)