The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Asian Auto Manufacturing Boom Leaves China High and Dry

Now here’s a sign of the times in Asia: Bloomberg reports that Toyota, a Japanese carmaker, is on track to produce more vehicles in Thailand by 2015 than it does in China. Here’s the story:

Thailand’s total vehicle output may rise 30 percent to 3 million units by the end of 2015, according to Macquarie Group Ltd. Toyota, which has three factories in the country, exported 406,000 units out of the 880,000 Hilux trucks, Fortuner SUVs, Innova vans and other vehicles it built there last year, according to the company.

Toyota made about 750,000 vehicles in China last year, and didn’t export any model from the country. The company’s two largest production bases are Japan and the U.S.

There’s a whole laundry list of reasons why many Japanese companies are looking to reduce their dependence on China. Besides pollution and rising wages there are the political tensions between the two countries that at times have seen Chinese mobs blocking or attacking Japanese factories and establishments.

This is accelerating moves of manufacturing away from China and as the Thai example shows, there are plenty of options. Look for India and Myanmar as well as Vietnam and Indonesia to benefit from this trend. Indeed, according to another Japanese auto executive, that’s already happening.

Published on February 23, 2013 12:05 pm