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Metal Casting Technologies : March 2009
BRIEFINGS opened in 2000, if it goes ahead, would be GM’s first diesel-engine plant in Southeast Asia. However, without financial help from the Thai government in raising loans GM may cancel the project. Across Thailand there are around 350,000 permanent workers employed in 1600 auto-parts producers, including the casting, forging, pressings and plastics sectors. With vehicle output expected to drop by 24% to 1.1 million units subcontract workers were laid off at the end of 2008. The Industry Ministry and the Thailand Automotive Institute (TAI) now predict that up to 40,000 of the permanent workforce could become redundant during the first half of 2009. As part of an unemployment relief project the Industry Ministry is planning to fund training courses for some 20,000 workers so that they will be ready to return to the industry when the economy recovers. Before the crisis the TAI had a plan to train 100,000 skilled workers to support the growth of the automotive industry but now, to ease rising unemployment, this plan has been modified to train laid- off workers. There is also an auto rescue plan intended to improve the purchasing power of consumers by offering tax relief for new car buyers and to provide soft loans for Thai automotive parts producers. To revive the Thai economy the Thai government intends to borrow up to USD 7 million to finance infrastructure development and job programmes. Foreign loans would come from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). In Thailand economic problems have been magnified by the airport protests and on-going political problems. It is believed that, without the correct economic stimulus, the Thai economy could suffer more than that of most other S.E. Asian countries. 14 www.metals.rala.com.au Malaysian hub Chongqing Changan Automobile Co in Guangzhou has started assembling passenger vehicles in Malaysia. The company aims to use Malaysia as its manufacturing as well as export hub for Southeast Asia and Africa. Changan Berjaya Auto Sdn Bhd, Changan’s Malaysia-based joint venture with local investment group Berjaya Corp., started production and sales of the Changan Benben and CM8 mini cars in Malaysia on January 19. It is planned to produce 10,000 units this year with 5,000 units sold in Malaysia and the rest exported to nearby countries including Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, India, Thailand and Sri Lanka. Approximately 40 percent parts in value of the vehicles are sourced from Malaysia. The local parts are mainly non-mechanical components such as seats and tires while core components such as the powertrains and chassis parts are all sourced from China. Taiwan AM suppliers benefit from US OEM outlet closures Affected by the financial crisis facing the three major US carmakers, thousands of OEM outlets are closing down, which benefits Taiwan AM suppliers. According to Keystone, a large North American AM outlet, demand for AM parts will grow by at least 10% this year, with demand gradually strengthening in the second quarter. The US National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) advises that nearly 1,000 US OEM outlets closed in the second half of last year as a result of the financial crisis facing the three major US carmakers. An estimated 2,000 will close this year, accounting for over one-third of all OEM outlets. In addition to AM suppliers benefiting, with tier 1 manufacturers placing their orders, Hota, a supplier of OEM transmission parts, has received three orders since last December from agricultural machinery manufacturer John Deere, Belgian manufacturer Punch for planetary gear units and Europe’s biggest diesel engine manufacturer Deutz. Hota projects this year’s sales to hit $2.4bn, a 5% growth on last year’s. Professor David St John new role – Advanced Materials Research Professor David St John Professor David St John, the immediate past CEO of the CAST CRC, has taken up a new role as Director, Centre for Advanced Materials Processing and Manufacturing (AMPAM) located at the University of Queensland. For many years Professor St John has been a great contributor to Metals Casting Magazine and in his new role he will continue to have access to the latest research in advanced metals eg titanium and other light metals as they relate to new technologies. We asked Professor St John of his thoughts about the new technologies relating to green cars, their engines and how this may impact the metal casting industry. He said “The future is changing so quickly that it is difficult to predict what will happen over the next few months let alone years. The governments in Europe, North