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Japan, Toyota eye Thailand as R&D, manufacturing hub

BANGKOK (The Nation/ANN) - Toyota planning to make Thailand a research-and-development hub for the Asia-Pacific region.

Industry Minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit was recently in Japan to discuss business and investment opportunities with existing and future partners, including Toyota Motors, which aims to produce 5.5 million automobiles in Thailand by 2025.

After signing a memorandum of understanding with the Japan-Thailand Economics Corporation Society (JTECS) and Toyota Motors Co Ltd, Suriya said his ministry will use this agreement to boost the production of automobiles and improve the robotic industry in Thailand.

“This MoU will bring us closer to the Thailand 4.0 target,” he said. “We also aim to establish 1,400 system integrators within four years to facilitate hardware and software needs of corporate clients.”

Suriya added that Toyota was also planning to make Thailand a research-and-development hub for the Asia-Pacific region.“As a major partner in this MoU, Toyota will bring state-of-the-art technology to manufacturing bases in Thailand, which will boost production capacity to over 750,000 units annually,” the minister added.

Meanwhile Toyota chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada said his company is currently beefing production facilities in Thailand, aiming to build over 5 million units by 2025.“Within this target, 500,000 will be electric vehicles [EV], while the rest will be plug-in hybrid electric vehicles [PHEV],” he said.

“We are emphasising on PHEVs since pure EVs still have many limitations, such as higher price batteries and total reliance on charging stations, which are not comprehensive enough in many areas.

The industry minister also discussed investment opportunities in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) with Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).“Minister Isshu Sugawara‎ told me that Japan is interested in infrastructure projects such as high-speed train and manufacturing bases for robotics and high-tech industries,” said Suriya. “METI will also coordinate with its partners to bring Japanese investors to Thailand to explore EEC’s readiness and business opportunities.”

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