To say that Thailand is the Detroit of Asia is an understatement. With so many manufacturers running automotive factories there, The Land of Smiles is essentially one of the biggest and most important automotive hubs in Southeast Asia and perhaps the world.
Proving that point is Mitsubishi Motors (Thailand) Co. (MMTC) which recently celebrated its 5-million exports milestone. The automaker held a ceremony at its Laem Chabang Cruise Center at the Laem Chabang Port in Chonburi province. Serving as the company’s 5-millionth export model is the Triton (AKA the Strada) pickup truck. This achievement highlights the brand’s significant role as a production hub for both regional and global operations.
“Thailand’s strategic status as an automotive hub helped drive Mitsubishi Motors Thailand to become the hub for its regional and international operations. In Thailand, we have three assembly plants, one engine factory, and one paint factory, along with the first proving ground outside Japan to strengthen research and development (R&D), and an Education Academy as a training facility for employees and soon entire value chain hires more than 400,000 positions in total, creating a number of job opportunities and contributes to building the Thai auto industry, the economy, and infrastructure,” said Eiichi Koito, president and CEO of MMTC.
Koito added that they have investment plans coming up for MMTC. These include new model development, production capacity enhancement, as well as facilities upgrading with solar power and renewable energy.
MMTC first started operations back in 1961 and began local production in 1992 when Laem Chabang Plant 1 opened. It was then followed by Laem Chabang Plant 2 in 1996 and then Laem Chabang Plant 3 in 2007. This allowed the company to produce world-class cars and pickup trucks for both domestic and export markets. Currently, MMTC produces five models - the Triton, Pajero Sport (AKA Montero Sport), Mirage, Attrage (AKA Mirage G4), and Outlander PHEV.
Throughout its storied history, MMTC has completed several achievements and accolades. Mitsubishi Motors Thailand is the first automaker to export Thai-made vehicles when it exported a Lancer Champ to Canada back in 1988. In addition, MMTC achieved 1 million exports in 2007, 2 million exports in 2013, 3 million exports in 2016, and 4 million exports in 2019.
With an annual capacity of 400,000 vehicles a year with exports going to more than 120 countries all over the world, MMTC’s manufacturing facilities at Laem Chabang are currently the biggest outside Japan. From 2019 to October 2022, Australia has become the largest export market, followed by Germany, the U.S., Mexico, the Philippines, U.A.E., Indonesia, Vietnam, Chile, and Saudi Arabia. The Mitsubishi Triton is the most exported model, accounting for over 50% of exports. This is then followed by the Mirage, Attrage, and Pajero Sport.
“As one of the biggest automakers and exporters in Thailand, the achievement of Mitsubishi Motors Thailand is also a success to Thailand and its people, the auto industry, and the economy as a whole. As the auto industry grows, I would like to thank Mitsubishi Motors Thailand for the commitment to grow alongside the development of Thailand,” H.E. Suriya Jungrungreangkit, Minister of Industry for Thailand.
With Thailand achieving such an accolade, will Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) also be able to secure a similar milestone? In case you didn’t know, MMPC has been producing and exporting the L300 as the Colt for the Indonesian market. While it may not be as big as what Thailand exports, this is still a win-win for MMPC which also assembles the Mirage G4 for the Philippines market.
Here’s to hoping there will be more local production opportunities soon in the country.