When it comes to big names in the automotive industry in this region, “Toyota” is inevitably among the first few names that pop into everyone’s mind thanks to its highest sales figures in Thailand and its trustworthy both in terms of its quality and after-sales services. In this issue of All Around Plastics, we sat down with Mr. Surapong Tinnangwatana, Executive Vice President of Toyota Daihatsu Engineering and Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (TDEM), to discuss its collaboration with Grand Siam Composites Co., Ltd. (GSC), a joint venture of SCG Chemicals Co., Ltd., Mitsui Chemicals Inc., and Prime Polymer Co., Ltd. in Japan.
As a manufacturer of polypropylene compounds, plastic pellets used in automotive parts, GSC derives its polypropylene compound resins from polypropylene, a by-product of petroleum synthesis. Their compounds have been developed continuously over the past ten years in cooperation with its chief partners Toyota Motor Thailand Co., Ltd., and TDEM
Q: What is the scope of TDEM’s operation in Toyota’s automotive industry group?
A: Our company was previously called Toyota Motor Asia Pacific Engineering and Manufacturing, or TMAP-EM, and was officially renamed as Toyota Daihatsu Engineering and Manufacturing, or TDEM, later in April 2017, after the acquisition of shares of Daihatsu, an expert in manufacturing of compact cars, to realign our car development with the need of the global automobile market, which involves pollution reduction and energy conservation and can be achieved by rendering cars lightweight. Therefore, the development of quality plastic resins is thus playing an increasingly greater role in the automotive industry.
Currently, TDEM oversees the manufacturing and assembly plants of Toyota in seven countries across Asia Pacific, namely Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, India, and Pakistan.
Q: What has TDEM’s growth been?
A: Ten years ago, the markets prioritized by the parent company were the United States, Europe, and Japan, while others in Asia were considered secondary. However, these markets began to gradually expand, which in turn broadened the scope of TDEM. Currently, TDEM oversees the Asia-Pacific, Middle East, and North Africa markets, which account for 19 percent of Toyota’s total sales across the world. This has prompted the parent company in Japan to direct more attention towards TDEM.
Q: What is the secret to TDEM’s success in handling past economic slumps effectively?
A: We can say wholeheartedly that our past success could be attributed to excellent cooperation with our suppliers, including automotive part manufacturers and raw material producers, which enabled us to efficiently control production costs and maintain good operating performance. It has been the basis that allows us to cope with such economic climates. In addition, we also have our own Design and Development Center and Material Engineering Division, principally responsible for developing plastic pellets, with GSC as a supplier that has offered us assistance in these processes for over 10 years.
Q: At present, the automotive industry across the world seems to be striving to meet international environmental standards. What is TDEM’s vision in this regard?
A: As an automobile manufacturer, Toyota has direct responsibility towards the environment and as such is committed to maximize its capacity to reduce greenhouse gases through strict adherence to international standards, namely the U.S.’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and the European Emission Standards. To this end, we have developed fuel-efficient engines and lightweight vehicle bodies. At the same time, the assembly line must be quality-controlled to ensure no contamination leakage into the environment.
Currently, plastic parts that Toyota is producing are 10% by weight of total automotive parts. However, in the near future, we will try to increase the plastic proportion. We will definitely be working closely with GSC to keep developing materials as the production of SUVs in Japan is making more use of plastic, specifically in the manufacturing of hatchbacks, back doors and fenders.
TDEM is genuinely pleased to have GSC as a business alliance that will continue to work with us to develop technology that contributes to environmental conservation efforts and will elevate our entire system towards international environmental standards.