Mitsubishi to begin building compact model in Thailand
TOKYO: Mitsubishi Motors Corp., maker of the iMiEV electric car, will begin production of a new global compact model in Thailand in March 2012.
Mitsubishi Motors, based in Tokyo, will produce 150,000 units a year of the new model, the company said in a statement today. The automaker is spending 27 billion yen ($322 million) on a third plant in Thailand where the model will be built, spokesman Yuki Murata said by phone.
Mitsubishi is adding the compact as competitors introduce new small cars to meet rising global demand, especially in emerging markets. Toyota Motor Corp., which began selling its new Etios compact in India this month, will also make the model in Thailand, where tax incentives and population of 67 million are attracting investment from automakers. Annual production capacity at Mitsubishi's third Thai plant may eventually rise to 200,000 units, the statement said. The new model will be an affordable, fuel-efficient car with a 1-to 1.2-liter engine that will be exported from Thailand, it said. Mitsubishi Motors shares rose 0.9 percent to 117 yen in Tokyo today.
Auto production in Thailand, Southeast Asia's secondlargest economy, surged 76 percent to 1.35 million between January and October, the Thai Automotive Club, a trade group of automakers, said on Nov. 17.
Nissan Motor Co. this year moved Japan production of its March compact, designed for developed and emerging nations, to Thailand. Honda Motor Co. and General Motors Co. have also built plants in the nation, while Ford Motor Co. said in June that it plans to build a $450 million car factory in Rayong province, its first wholly owned factory in the country.
Infineon Technologies AG's lab in Neubiberg, south of Munich, engineers are mulling the idea of an electric car that's steered with a joystick.
"If you steer a car today, there's still a mechanical connection with the wheel," Jochen Hanebeck, head of Europe's second-largest chipmaker's automotive unit, said in an interview. "The vision would be that you ultimately drive by joystick."
A joystick-driven car is just a germ of an idea for now at Infineon, whose chips are found in everything from wind turbines to Chinese rice cookers as it searches for growth. Infineon's auto unit, the company's biggest, is pushing carmakers to ditch mechanical parts for electronic components. With the car industry facing relentless pressure to slash costs, Infineon has the ear of companies from Audi AG to China's Chery Inc. that are looking to safely replace more expensive mechanical parts. The automotive chip market is set to grow to $26.3 billion in 2014 from as much as $15.1 billion last year, a compound annual growth rate of about 12 percent, according to researcher iSuppli. Infineon expects chip content in each car to rise to $333 in 2016 from $251 in 2008.
The auto unit accounted for 38 percent of Infineon's sales from continuing operations in the year ended Sept. 30 --after it sold its wireless business to Intel Corp.
Sales from the business rose 51 percent to 1.26 billion euros. Infineon expects revenue at the unit to expand 10 percent, with Chief Executive Officer Peter Bauer estimating car production in calendar year 2011 of about 74m vehicles. Shares of Infineon, based in Neubiberg, Germany, have risen 88pc this year, making it fourth-best performer on Bloomberg World Semiconductor Index. -Bloomberg