LAEM CHABANG, THAILAND – Mitsubishi Motors Corp. on Thursday began full-fledged production of the Mirage compact at its plant in Laem Chabang, Thailand, with an eye on penetrating other markets in Southeast Asia.
The Mirage, which was launched in Thailand in March, is the core model in Mitsubishi Motors’ strategy for emerging markets, where its fuel-efficiency and low price should be attractive. It will also be sold elsewhere, including Japan and Europe.
President Osamu Masuko said it will be the company’s first attempt to sell vehicles made overseas in Japan.
Masuko said the company plans to hire more staff in Thailand to keep quality on a par with Japan.
MMC plans to produce 100,000 Mirages in Thailand by next March and eventually expand annual production capacity to 200,000 units. An electric version will be introduced next year.
The start of mass production at the Laem Chabang plant increases the company’s annual capacity in Thailand to 460,000 units from 310,000.
Mitsubishi Motors aims to increase its market share in ASEAN countries to 12 percent from around 7 percent now by 2015.
The five-seat hatchback will be priced at around ¥1 million.
Higher profits forecast
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. on Friday upgraded its group net profit estimate to ¥23.9 billion for fiscal 2011, compared with ¥20 billion projected earlier.
MMC earned ¥15.62 billion in fiscal 2010. The group operating profit estimate was raised to ¥63.7 billion, from ¥50.0 billion, despite a projected decline in sales, the automaker said.
Consolidated pretax profit is now expected to increase from the previous year’s ¥38.95 billion to ¥60.9 billion, against an earlier estimate of ¥40.0 billion.
Mitsubishi Motors plans to book a ¥12.3 billion one-time loss for fiscal 2011 for terminating auto production at Netherlands Car B.V. at the end of calendar 2012.
It also said it postponed a plan to book some ¥10.5 billion in profit on sales of shares in a joint venture in China.
JBIC, banks plan flood aid
The Japan Bank for International Cooperation said Friday it is extending a syndicated loan of up to ¥7.5 billion together with 11 Japanese commercial banks to help companies recover from last year’s floods in Thailand.
Midsize Japanese firms damaged by the floods, as well as local companies that supply them, will be eligible for the loan, JBIC said.
JBIC and 11 banks including the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Shizuoka Bank, the Bank of Kyoto and the Bank of Fukuoka will be providing loans through Thailand’s Kasikornbank.
Meanwhile, Bank of Fukuoka President Masaaki Tani said Thursday that the new office it opened in Bangkok in late March will support Japanese firms hoping to move into Southeast Asia.
The Bangkok branch, which is the bank’s sixth overseas, will cover Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.
The Bangkok office will provide financial information to more than 80 Japanese companies that have already entered the region or are planning to do so, the bank said.
Tadano eyes Thai plant
Crane maker Tadano Ltd. said Thursday it will set up a subsidiary in Thailand to produce cargo cranes starting in June 2013, for export to emerging markets in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
Tadano (Thailand) Co. in the northern Thailand province of Rayong is planned to produce 2,000 units in fiscal 2018, with sales targeted at ¥3 billion for the year, the firm said.