Business / Corporate

Japan’s GS Yuasa to boost car battery output in Thailand

Nna/kyodo

Major Japanese automotive and industrial battery-maker GS Yuasa International Ltd. will boost car battery production in Thailand to serve demand stemming from growing vehicle sales in Southeast Asia.

Siam GS Battery Co., the Kyoto-based company’s Thai joint venture, plans to invest 1 billion baht ($30 million) to increase annual output capacity by 25 percent to 5 million units by the end of 2020, as well as to expand its overseas business, said Prakasit Phornprapha, executive director of the local unit.

The Thai unit, in which the Japanese company owns a 60 percent stake, holds a 40 percent share in the domestic replacement car battery market, followed by other Japanese brands Hitachi Chemical Co. at 19 percent and Furukawa Battery Co. at 18 percent, according to German research firm GfK’s data cited by Prakasit at a recent news conference in Bangkok.

New car sales in Thailand this year are forecast to grow 3 percent year-on-year to over 900,000 units, spurring battery replacement demand in the next few years, Prakasit said.

With the new investment, Siam GS will also promote automation at a plant in Samut Prakan Province, south of the capital, and improve product quality to expand sales amid intensifying competition in Thailand.

Siam GS’s overall sales totaled 6 billion baht last year and exports accounted for 20 percent, with around half of them going to Myanmar. It aims to increase its sales by 8 percent this year.

Of the total investment, the Thai subsidiary plans to allocate 250 million baht for its operations in other Southeast Asian countries — including a charging station in Myanmar.

Siam GS Battery Myanmar Ltd., the new local sales arm of the Thai unit, is scheduled to start operations early next year by providing charging services for batteries imported from Thailand. Last year, Siam GS sold 300,000 units in Myanmar through local agents.

In line with the production increase in Thailand the local joint venture will also export its products to Japan, with its export ratio of total sales expected to reach 25 percent in 2020. Japan may account for 30 percent of its total exports by then, according to Siam GS.

GS Yuasa International holds an estimated 8 percent market share in the global automobile battery market in the year to March 2018, according to its latest financial statement.