Toyota Motor Corp.’s success in exporting vehicles made in its Thailand factories bound for the Middle East and Latin America is causing a boom for car carrier businesses. With massive numbers of Hilux pickup trucks and Fortuner SUVs being shipped out, Thailand was able to overtake China as Toyota’s third-biggest global production center for 2012. Consequently, it led to Nippon Yusen K.K., the world’s biggest operator of the roll-on, roll-off ships (RoRo), to make a forecast 3.45 million vehicles to be carried this fiscal year, the most in five years.
Toyota has three factories in the country, and Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. are planning on spending millions of dollars to build more cars in Thailand. All three automakers use Thailand as an export base for other developing countries; this is not the same in China, where they produce mainly for the domestic market. Thus, Nippon Yusen, which considers Toyota as its biggest customer, constantly adds ships. “Thailand is a flourishing market for shipping lines,” said to Ryota Himeno, a Barclays Securities Japan Ltd analyst.
According Macquarie Group Ltd., Toyota’s total vehicle output in Thailand could increase by 30% to 3 million units by the end of 2015. Last year, it had 880,000 units of Hilux trucks, Fortuner SUVs, Innova vans manufactured; 406,000 of those were exported. With this, Minoru Matsuno, president of Value Search Asset Management Co., an investment advisory company based in Tokyo, said, “Thailand’s emergence as a car-export nation is a big boost to Japanese shipping lines.”