Nearby, Ford Motor is building a manufacturing plant and Suzuki Motor aims to start producing environmentally friendly cars at a new factory in 2012.
Welcome to the “Detroit of Asia”, a vast area 120 km (75 miles) east of Bangkok, where durian orchards have given way to car plants over the past decade and vehicles are made for export to more than 200 countries.
While facing increasing competition as an auto manufacturing hub from countries including India, China and Indonesia, Thailand looks likely to retain its dominant position and win more investment thanks to its low wage costs and strong infrastructure.
“You have a good supplier network,” said Martin Apfel, GM’s president for Southeast Asian operations. “You really have a lot of experienced suppliers across the board so there’s a potential to really localise a lot.”
“The fabric is there. You can’t just drop an assembly plant into nowhere and think that cars would just magically pop up. There has got to be the right environment that brings high-quality cars,” he said.