Currently, Subaru vehicles sold locally are more pricey than comparable rival models because they are imported from Japan and face higher taxes.
Subaru is preparing to open seven more showrooms and service centres in Thailand this year in anticipation of improved sales one time it starts importing vehicles built in Malaysia to take advantage of zero taxes under the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta).
The centre on Seri Thai Road including a check track covering seven.5 rai also serves as Subaru’s head office.
The company now has showroom, service and parts centres in Thailand: on Seri Thai Road and Bang Kae in Bangkok and in Phuket.
Apichai Thamsirarak, general manager of Motor Picture Subaru (Thailand) Co, the authorised local distributor, said it would set up new centres in Bangkok and each in Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima and Hat Yai in Songkhla. the costs would vary depending on size and location.
Motor Picture, established in 1998, distributes a full range of Subaru vehicles including the Impreza sedan and hatchback, Legacy sedan and wagon, Forester sport utility vehicle (SUV) and Outback wagon, all imported from Japan and taxed at 80%.
Motor Picture is a owned subsidiary of Tan Chong International, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and has automotive, commercial, manufacturing, trading and property businesses.
Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), the maker of Subaru automobiles, this week signed a memorandum of understanding for a consignment production contract with Tan Chong Group to assemble Subaru vehicles in Malaysia.
Production will start in October 2012 at an existing production facility of Tan Chong Motor Assemblies Sdn Bhd (TCMA) with a capacity of seven,000 units a year.
Subaru compact SUVs will be made in Malaysia and marketed in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia through the Subaru network of Tan Chong.
FHI has worked with Tan Chong since 1987 when the latter was appointed the Subaru distributor in Singapore. Its network now covers Cambodia, southern China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
Glenn Tan, executive director of Tan Chong International Ltd and group chief executive of Motor Picture, said the first compact SUV to be marketed in Thailand in October 2012 would be the new Subaru XV idea which was recently introduced at the Auto Shanghai 2011 motor show in China. It is a tiny four-door, five-seat crossover with a youthful yet rugged appearance.
Besides the XV idea, other models including the Impreza will be manufactured by Tan Chong Malaysia and exported to Thailand.