Subaru opens first plant outside of Japan

By JAY WONG | 23 April 2019

BANGKOK: Tan Chong International (TCI) has officially opened its first Subaru assembly plant in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Tan Chong Subaru Automotive Thailand (TCSAT) plant is located in the Ladkrabung Industrial Estate, which is in the outskirts of Bangkok City and is now the first Subaru plant to have been constructed outside of Japan.

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Tan during the official opening ceremony.

"This is truly a milestone for us, to be able to build Subaru cars ourselves in Thailand. From distribution, dealerships and aftersales, we are now also manufacturing Subaru cars," said TCI deputy chairman and managing director Glenn Tan.

The THB5.0bil (RM645mil) plant covers an area of 100,000 square meters and is a joint venture between the company (74.9%) and Subaru Corporation in Japan which was fully completed in March this year.

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The plant currently has a capacity to produce 6,000 units and will be increased to 10,000 units next year.

At full capacity, the plant is able to produce up to 100,000 units and accommodate up to four models.

The fifth-generation Forester sport utility vehicle was the first model to roll off the assembly line in Aug 2018 and it will be distributed in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

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A team of Japanese staff have been employed at TCSAT to ensure production standards and processes meet the same stringent levels as in Japan.

Also, high-performance robotics are used at several stages of the assembly process to ensure quality and defects are kept at bay.

At the painting line, the pre-treatment, electrical deposits, primer and top coat are applied automatically.

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The key welding points of the car body and the sealer application for glass components are also automated to achieve total consistency.

All this is part of the technology and skills knowledge transfer which Subaru Corporation has committed to.

Quality control and correction processes take place during and throughout the assembly process and is complemented by regular production audits by Subaru Corporation.

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Some of the unique features of the plant include a test track which was specially built to assess the condition of every car before it leaves the factory.

The plant employs more than 400 local workers as well as expatriates from Japan and Singapore who are based in Thailand to share their technical and management expertise.

To maintain overall safety levels at the plant, a committee oversees the safety standards of the plant and proactively identifies and isolates potential risks.

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To further promote staff health and well-being, the canteen serves nutritious Thai and Japanese meals, while facilities such as a futsal field cater to staff recreational needs.

"This strategic long- term move will allow us to better manage our supply chain, widen our product line up, localise better and be less dependent on supply from Japan. We will be better able to respond and meet consumer demand for Subaru vehicles in the region, and perhaps even beyond the region in future,” added Tan.
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