GM Says Southeast Asian Operations are 'Business as Usual'

Says plans for growth remain on track

The Southeast Asian operations of automaker General Motors will continue to grow despite the bankruptcy petition filed by its parent company in the U.S., executives said in Bangkok on June 2.

Steve Carlisle, president of General Motors Southeast Asia operations, told a press conference that the company, which is run independently of its U.S. parent, does not expect any impact to its business. "Our operations in (Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries) will continue as planned," Carlisle said, adding that employees would be paid, warranties guaranteed and deliveries to dealers would continue as usual. "Moreover, our plans for continued growth remain on track," he said, without giving figures for the projected growth.

Carlisle was joined by other senior executives for the press conference at an upscale hotel that opened with a GM advertisement set to a cover version of the classic Queen single "Don't Stop Me Now".

But Carlisle admitted that General Motors in Thailand had just halted assembly for two weeks, to reduce inventory due to slow demand, following a two-month shutdown in December and January. The company also shed 250 sub-contractor jobs at the end of last year at the Rayong plant, GM's only operation in Thailand. The factory has the capacity to produce 130,000 units annually. In 2007 it produced 100,000 units of Chevrolet, Holden and other models for domestic sales and export.

Carlisle said the construction of a new diesel engine plant in Rayong, due to open in 2010, was still on track.

He said the Asia Pacific wing of GM had recorded unprecedented growth in the first quarter.

Vice-President Antonio Zara said that although sales were down year-on-year, the company's market share in Thailand had stood steady at 3.6%.

Thailand has positioned itself as a key regional production base for foreign automakers, which assemble vehicles in the nation for export around the region. Toyota and Honda also have large factories in Thailand.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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