Maybe we can say goodby to import taxes Honda retools for bigger bikes Expanded plant offers more options Published: 29/08/2011 at 12:00 AM Newspaper section: Business Honda's newly expanded motorcycle plant at Lat Krabang in Bangkok will accommodate the manufacturing of several products for export including large bikes, says Annop Phornprapha, vice-president of Thai Honda Manufacturing Co. The Lat Krabang plant already makes the 125cc PCX, the 150cc CBR and the 250cc CBR, well-known global models. In Thailand, the PCX, which costs more than 70,000 baht, and CBR models, priced above 100,000 baht, are popular with high-end customers. Honda's foreign success prompted the expansion to help it prepare for new models with larger engines. AP Honda, the distribution arm of the company, plans to introduce 12 new products over the next few years to strengthen its market leadership. Mr Annop said Thai Honda, which manufactures motorcycles, power products and automotive parts, completed its 2.8-billion-baht installation of new lines and output is now 2 million units per year after moving power products to another area. As usual, 1.5 million of the regular motorcycle models per year will be produced because the new lines are reserved for the larger bikes. The plant is currently undergoing test runs and will start commercial production next month. Production of automotive parts remains at the old plant, said Mr Annop. The market for big bikes in Thailand is small, at fewer than 1,000 units per year, so most will be slated for export. AP Honda will open the first big bike centre in Asia-Pacific next year after a three-year delay. The centre will cost 400 million baht and is named Honda Big Wing, located on three rai of land on Pradit Manutham Road alongside the Rarm Intra expressway, Construction was completed in 2009 and facilities consist of offices, a showroom, a service centre, a workshop, an exhibition hall, a canteen, a lounge, a warehouse, and a riding track. Suchart Arunsaengroj, director of sales at AP Honda, said Honda was ready to enter the local large-bike market. The market is characterised by sky-high import tariffs, but Honda decided to target the premium motorcycles because the budget segment is saturated. As well, it will be able to take advantage of lower tariffs offered under the Japan-Thailand free trade agreement.