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April 23, 2019

Subaru's New Thailand Plant to Help Boost Vehicle Quality, Cut Waiting Times

Subaru Corporation Senior General Manager for Sales and Marketing, Mr. Tomohiro Ishitobi admits that the car company’s own success is to blame for the recent spat of scandals involving vehicle recalls (brake switch, valve springs, power steering, among others) and safety-related data falsification.

Speaking at the opening of the Tan Chong Subaru Automotive Thailand (TCSAT) Assembly Plant, Ishitobi-san says that aging facilities coupled with continuous record-breaking sales have put pressure on Subaru. “We admit that we were doing shortcuts. It did not affect vehicle quality and it did not go against government regulation, but it went against our own internal standards,” says Ishitobi-san.

Moving forward, Ishitobi-san says that Subaru’s management has now worked to change what he calls the “long-standing culture of compliance for compliance’s sake,” and instead they will focus on delivering a quality product to the customer.

“We have changed the production management, updating vehicle line assembly, and even improving the working environment to focus on delivering quality,” says Ishitobi-san. “Quality is everything for Subaru; it is what the six stars in our brand stands for.”

Furthermore, Ishitobi-san says the opening of Subaru’s first assembly plant in ASEAN, and only the fourth in the world will certainly alleviate pressure at the carmaker’s current manufacturing plants, which have all been operating above capacity.

“Because of our focus in further improving our quality, our customers have been experiencing delays in getting their new Subaru,” says Ishitobi-san. “The waiting time could be as much as 6 months in some cases.”

With Subaru expect the ASEAN region to grow by double in the next 6 years (50,000 units from the current 23,000), now more than ever, Subaru needs an additional assembly plant to meet the growing demand for their vehicles, especially in the markets served by Motor Image.

The opening of the TCSAT plant is certainly welcome news. A joint-venture between Tan Chong Motor Assemblies (74.9 percent) and Subaru Corporation (25.1 percent), the new facility has a maximum capacity of 100,000 units annually and can produce a total of 4 models. It will initially focus on markets such as Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia, assembling the fifth-generation Forester for those markets.

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