In a bid to grow its business in ASEAN, Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) – the manufacturer of Subaru vehicles – has announced plans to establish a production base in Thailand. FHI is set to enter into a basic agreement on establishing a joint venture with TC Manufacturing and Assembly Thailand (TCMA TH), a subsidiary of Tan Chong International Limited (TCIL) next month.

The plan states that the JV company – to be called Tan Chong Subaru Automotive (Thailand) Co Ltd – will be majority owned by TCMA TH with 74.9%, with the Japanese company holding the remaining 25.1%. The parties aim to start Thai production in 2019.

At present, Subaru’s sole ASEAN CKD production base is in Malaysia, where the Tan Chong Motor Assemblies plant in Segambut rolls out the Subaru XV and Forester SUV models for our domestic market and export to Thailand.

The Subaru XV and Forester are assembled in Malaysia for both domestic and ASEAN export markets

The statement from FHI did not spell out the models that will be built in Thailand, but it did say that “production in Malaysia will continue, and TCIL will sell the vehicles produced both in Malaysia and Thailand through its Subaru dealer network.”

Most in the region know of the Subaru brand via distributor Motor Image, a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-listed TCIL holding company. While TCIL and the Malaysian-listed Tan Chong Motor Holdings Berhad (guardian of the Nissan and Renault brands in Malaysia) share family ties and the same name, the former is led by a different branch of the family, and is based in Singapore.