A growing number of local utes are now being manufactured in Thailand, and now Volkswagen Australia has intimated that lower production costs could soon see the Volkswagen Amarok built in the Asia Pacific region.
CarAdvice recently sat down with Volkswagen Australia director of commercial vehicles, Carlos Santos to find out whether manufacturing in Thailand or other parts of Asia could influence the cost and specification of future Amarok models.
"It's definitely on their [Volkswagen Group] agenda. Not neccesarily Thailand, but somewhere in the Asian region, because this area — the Asian Pacific area — is one of the next big...well already is, the next big growth area," Santos said.
The Thai free trade agreement with Australia, which commenced in 2005, has eliminated almost all tariffs associated with the importation of manufactured vehicles from Thailand.
Trade between Thailand and Australia grosses over AU$19.4 billion, making it one of the most valuable trade channels into the country. Manufacturing the Amarok in a country like Thailand would reduce the cost of production, the cost of transportation and the cost to the consumer.
When asked whether Amarok buyers in Australia could see a price reduction, Santos suggested it would come in the form of extra specification and features.
"We might work on prices, but I think probably I'd prefer to keep the price where it is — I don't think it's too expensive anyway. You want to try and protect customers that have already bought the car instead of destroying the price point.
"I'd rather add specification and features to get more value in the car, rather than just cut the price."
Santos wasn't concerned about the difference in quality between Volkswagen's current commercial manufacturing zones in America and Africa, suggesting the quality is already there.
"I don't think so, they're [the Volkswagen Group] pretty good at replicating their systems and processes and just dropping it into a new market," he said.
"They've done it in lots of countries in the world, Brazil...South Africa...places like that, where we source cars already. The quality is already there."