The automotive sector is very dynamic in Southeast Asia, where Thailand has become a leading hub for car production. Matt Bradley, president of Ford ASEAN, explains the presence, interest and outlook of Ford in the ASEAN region, giving also a particular perspective on the automotive industry in Thailand.
In an interview with Rishaad Salamat on the fringe of Bloomberg ASEAN Business Summit, Matt Bradley, president of Ford ASEAN present the ASEAN automotive sector and his company’s strategic approach to grow in Southeast Asia.
The automotive sector in ASEAN
Southeast Asia is a very attractive market for the automotive industry. It provides significant growth perspectives thanks to:
- a large population of 600 million customers
- a growing middle class
- a low vehicle density
Recently, Ford sales have been growing the fastest in the Philippines and Vietnam, while Thailand remained the largest market in terms of volume of sales. The regional management of Ford’s production and sales has enabled them to mitigate suggishness of the Thai market to benefit from higher growing markets of ASEAN.
Automotive production in Thailand
Like many companies benefiting from the well-developed Thai automotive industry, Ford has set its manufacturing hub in Thailand. It plans on remaining in Thailand and to expand its production base there for all ASEAN.
Ford currently builds 2 types of cars, a small SUV and large SUV coming soon, and a pick-up truck. They are built in Thailand and exported to other ASEAN countries to be sold.
Marketing cars in Southeast Asia
Ford’s marketing strategy to sell cars in Southeast Asia is mainly focused on segmentation. They evaluate which type and quantity of cars, SUV or pick-up trucks to market in each country, according to local customers’ preferences. Then they plan their production and distribution accordingly for all ASEAN.
Competition against other car companies
Japanese car brands dominate the Thai market and many other ASEAN markets. To compete against them, Ford’s strategy is to focus on satisfying customers’ demand where it is. Customer satisfaction especially goes through technology to connect them to their cars.
Some Chinese car makers do start to sell in ASEAN, but most of them focus on the massive Chinese market. As the automotive market becomes more global, more competitors should come to Southeast Asia. For now though, the dominant players in ASEAN are the rather more famous, global brands.
Bloomberg video from December 2014