Homegrown auto major Tata Motors on Sunday said it plans to launch a passenger car in Thailand despite pulling out of an eco-car project in the Southeast Asian nation.

“The company will explore opportunities to expand its product portfolio by introducing a relevant passenger car model from the Tata Motors portfolio with appropriate investment for local production in Thailand,” a Tata Motors spokesperson said.

“The product will be highly fuel-efficient and environment-friendly and will meet the aspiration of the Thai consumers,” the official claimed. He, however, declined to comment on the model and any timeframe for the launch.

According to Thai media reports, Tat Motors is likely to rollout its Rs. 1 lakh car Nano in Thailand as a replacement for the eco-car. Last year, a Thai government official had said Tata Motors was willing to launch the Nano there.

“They (Tata Motors) have plans to introduce the Nano in future (in Thailand) for the economic segment of the market and probably plan to expand it by taking to the neighbouring countries in the ASEAN,” Thailand board of investment secretary general Atchaka Brimble had said in June 2009.

Tata Motors is planning to launch the car in Thailand despite pulling out from an ambitious eco-car project there.

The company spokesperson said, “Tata Motors Thailand is not participating in the eco-car project.”

In April 2008, Tata Motors had received a Thai government approval for setting up a greenfield manufacturing facility to produce eco-cars at a reported investment of 7 billion baht (about Rs. 1,000 crore).

While the Tatas didn’t specify reasons for pulling out of the Thai project, reports from Bangkok said the Tatas did not submit details before the March 31 deadline due to latest unfavourable tax structure and huge investment involved.

The Thai government had earlier invited applications from carmakers to make eco-cars, under which the government would give tax benefits with some pre-decided conditions.

Global players such as Toyota, Volkswagen, Honda, Suzuki, Nissan, and Mitsubishi besides Tata applied for the project.

As per the condition for setting up an eco-car facility, the vehicle should be with less than 1.4 litre engine and four out of the five engine components would have to be made indigenously. Another condition was to manufacture 1 lakh units in five years.

Tata Motors Thailand currently rolls out the Xenon luxury pick-up truck and is targeting to capture 5 per cent of the pickup vehicle market by 2014 in that country. The company has set up a plant in Bangkok for producing the Xenon with an annual capacity of 20,000 units.

Keywords: Tata MotorsNanoThailand

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