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Srettha Thavisin Reassures Stability Amid Suzuki Plant Closure and EV Transition in Thailand

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Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin recently enjoyed an old-fashioned samlor ride to the Lamphun provincial hall, embodying a commitment to traditional values even as modern challenges loom. (Photo: Government House)

In the midst of a rapidly transforming automotive industry, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has reassured the public that the decision made by Suzuki Motor Corporation to shut down its plant in Rayong won’t lead to an exodus of other auto manufacturers from Thailand. Suzuki announced on Friday its plan to close the 12-year-old facility by the end of 2025, impacting 800 workers, as the company shifts its focus to the production of electric vehicles (EVs) elsewhere.

Underlining the Thai government’s commitment to the automotive sector, Mr. Srettha emphasized the ongoing significance of Japanese combustion engine vehicles. Meetings with major industry players such as Toyota, Honda, Isuzu, Mazda, and Mitsubishi have been held to address their requirements from the government, ensuring their continued investment and operational stability in Thailand.

Highlighting the ongoing efforts, Mr. Srettha mentioned his participation in the Asean-Japan 50th anniversary event held on December 17 of the previous year. The event brought together top executives from automotive industries operating in Thailand, reinforcing their confidence in increasing investment within the kingdom. “Suzuki’s decision, though noteworthy, is a reflection of its specific market dynamics and production strategy,” Mr. Srettha noted. “Their market share in Thailand was relatively minor and the shift aligns with their broader focus on EVs.”

On a reassuring note, despite the closure of its Rayong plant, Suzuki will continue manufacturing motorcycles and maintain its service centers for parts and maintenance across Thailand. This move ensures that the company remains a significant player in the country’s automotive scene.

In a related development, Suwanna Khantivisit, the head of the Chachoengsao Labour Protection and Welfare Office, voiced concerns over the increasingly precarious labor market in the province. The automotive sector, employing a substantial 39,321 workers across 137 workplaces, faces the challenges posed by the burgeoning EV market. As electric vehicles gain ground, the traditional combustion engine vehicle industry is experiencing stagnation, putting several jobs at risk.

Isares Rattanadilok na Phuket, Deputy Chair of the Federation of Thai Industries, echoed these concerns while pointing out the compounding factors affecting the industry. Low economic growth has forced manufacturers to adopt risk-mitigation strategies, while policies like minimum wage hikes and the promotion of EV imports have further eroded the sector’s competitive edge. The inconsistent government support for domestic industries amidst rising interest rates, high fuel, and electricity costs has exacerbated the financial difficulties faced by many firms.

In the first half of this year alone, 360 factories shut down, leading to an investment loss estimated at 9.4 billion baht. This wave of closures resulted in the termination of more than 10,000 workers, surpassing the average numbers over the past two years. If the proposed 400-baht minimum wage is implemented nationwide, factory closures could potentially double to about 700, Mr. Isares warned. Employers fear the heightened wage costs could make some plants uncompetitive, propelling them towards irredeemable financial strain.

As Thailand navigates through these industrial upheavals, the government’s engagement with major global and domestic stakeholders in the automotive sector remains essential. Ensuring a balance between fostering innovation in EVs while sustaining the traditional automotive workforce will be critical to maintaining the nation’s industrial stability and growth.


  1. Anna K. June 8, 2024

    I can’t believe Suzuki is shutting down. This is a huge blow to the economy and the workers!

    • john_doe June 8, 2024

      It’s not that surprising. The whole industry is shifting towards electric vehicles. We need to adapt.

      • eco_warrior June 8, 2024

        Exactly! This is a move towards a greener future. Combustion engines are the past.

      • Anna K. June 8, 2024

        But what about the 800 workers losing their jobs? The government needs to do something to protect them!

  2. Mike Davis June 8, 2024

    The government’s commitment to traditional values won’t save those jobs. We need a more forward-thinking approach.

    • Cynthia P. June 8, 2024

      Are you saying that traditional values are not important? They shape our identity!

      • Mike Davis June 8, 2024

        I’m not saying that, but balancing tradition and modernity is key to economic growth.

      • TechSavvy1990 June 8, 2024

        Agreed. We need innovation, but not at the cost of our heritage.

  3. Krit L. June 8, 2024

    Why is the government so keen on EVs? What about the existing automotive workforce?

    • green_future June 8, 2024

      EVs are the future, we can’t cling to the past forever. Workers need retraining programs.

  4. Susan O. June 8, 2024

    Suzuki’s exit is a sign of things to come. Other manufacturers may follow if the government doesn’t act fast.

    • Alex G. June 8, 2024

      I think other companies will stay if there’s a clear roadmap for the industry’s future.

      • User_X June 8, 2024

        Agreed, but we need real policies, not just talks.

  5. Kevin Blake June 8, 2024

    Minimum wage hikes are needed but they should be balanced with economic realities.

    • Sophie L. June 8, 2024

      People need livable wages. If companies can’t handle it, maybe they shouldn’t be in business.

  6. Tommy June 8, 2024

    This obsession with EVs is overrated. Combustion engines still have a lot of life left.

    • Anita B. June 8, 2024

      Are you serious? EVs are cleaner and more efficient. The planet can’t wait!

  7. Linda Chen June 8, 2024

    The government’s mixed signals are confusing. Are we supporting traditional vehicles or pushing for EVs?

    • Dave R. June 8, 2024

      They’re trying to balance both, but it’s clearly not working out well.

  8. Paul T. June 8, 2024

    How are workers supposed to transition to new industries overnight? This isn’t practical.

    • Robyn D. June 8, 2024

      This is why we need comprehensive retraining programs! The government should invest in skills development.

    • Alexis June 8, 2024

      Totally, without proper support, people will struggle.

    • Paul T. June 8, 2024

      Yes, retraining is key, but it’s not happening fast enough.

  9. Sharma M. June 8, 2024

    The inconsistent government support is hurting all sectors, not just automotive.

  10. Eric Z June 8, 2024

    It’s not just about wages and rates; high fuel and electricity costs are killing businesses too.

  11. ModernInvestor June 8, 2024

    This crisis is an opportunity. Thailand could become a leader in EV production if managed correctly.

  12. Watcher2023 June 8, 2024

    Automation and tech advancements mean fewer jobs. We need to find new employment avenues.

  13. George June 8, 2024

    We’ve seen factory closures before. How is this any different?

    • Maya R. June 8, 2024

      The scale is different this time, and it’s combined with a shift in technology. That makes it harder to navigate.

  14. Srikant June 8, 2024

    EVs are just the start. Autonomous vehicles will change the landscape even more. Are we prepared?

  15. FutureThinker June 8, 2024

    Other countries are also investing heavily in EVs. Thailand cannot afford to lag behind.

  16. Deepika T. June 8, 2024

    The impact on local jobs is significant. The government must introduce social safety nets.

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