Toyota to Open Yangon Auto Plant

By Aung Thiha 31 May 2019

Yangon—Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. said on Thursday it would invest US$52.6 million (about 80 billion kyats) in a car assembly plant to be established in the Japanese-backed Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Yangon. It will be the automaker’s first plant in Myanmar.

The Japanese automaker said in a statement that it would set up Toyota Myanmar Co. in June to locally assemble Hilux pickup trucks.

Production is scheduled to begin in 2021, and the plant will produce around 2,500 vehicles per year, using the semi knock-down (SKD) method. According to the statement, the plant will provide more than 130 jobs.

The Japanese automaker said demand for new cars is on the rise, nearly doubling last year to 18,000 units.

“The fact that a giant automaker like Toyota has invested in us will have a favorable impact on the image of our country,” Daw Than Than Thwel, joint secretary of the Thilawa SEZ Management Committee, told The Irrawaddy. “This will boost the confidence of other potential investors.”

Other Japanese automakers like Suzuki and Nissan have already established factories in Myanmar.

In an attempt to lower used car imports, the government only issues Yangon licenses for locally assembled cars manufactured using the SKD method. As a result, local demand for SKD vehicles has increased, automobile dealers said.

“The government has a policy to reduce the import of used cars year by year. The entry of [new] automakers will provide the people with the opportunity to buy brand new cars at cheaper prices,” said U Myo Zin Win, secretary of the Myanmar Automobile Manufacturers and Distributors Association.

It will be two years until Toyota begins production on its first Hilux vehicles, so their presence will not be immediately felt in the domestic automobile market, auto dealers say.

Suzuki and Nissan of Japan, KIA and Hyundai of Korea and the American automaker Ford are currently among the largest manufacturers making vehicles using the SKD method in Myanmar. Around 17 firms, including several Chinese companies, are investing in automobile manufacturing in Myanmar.

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