Motorcycles in Thailand

Motorcycle industry background

The Thai motorcycle industry has developed with strong
governmental regulation and protection. Today Thailand has import duty on complete built-up (CBU) units of 60% and complete knocked-down (CKD) units of 40%, but for many years CBU was banned and CKD required local content. Historically this created the conditions for foreign direct investment in order to accelerate industrialization. Thailand managed to attract Japanese motorcycle manufacturers already in the 60s, who were allowed to set-up subsidiaries. 

Top brands in Thailand

As volume increased, by the 90s Japanese suppliers were present in large numbers. Perhaps Thailand's aim was first mover advantage compared to nearby countries as Thailand remained a net exporter of 2-wheelers until 2006.

The Japanese players used existing products that were simple and the focus was on cost reductions. The most popular models are derivatives of the Honda Cub, nominated "underbone" due to the engine and frame configuration. The Thai motorcycle industry is subordinate to Japanese manufacturers’ global strategy. 

Many of the skills developed in the motorcycle industry have been successfully transferred to Thailand's automotive industry.
For more information on the big bike market, please read this article.

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Important events involving Japanese motorcycle manufacturers.

 1964 Honda  Asian Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (Thailand) established. 
 1964 Yamaha   Siam Yamaha Co., Ltd founded in Thailand 
 1967 Honda    Motorcycle production in Thailand begins. 
 1967 Suzuki Thai Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd. is established for assembly in Thailand (First motorcycle plant outside Japan). 
 1967 Yamaha  Liaison office opened in Thailand 
 1976 Kawasaki  Thai Kawasaki Motors Co., Ltd., manufacturing company, founded in Thailand 
 1995 Yamaha    Yamaha Motor Thailand founded 
 1997 Honda     Honda R&D Southeast Asia Co., Ltd. established in Thailand. 
 1997 Kawasaki     Kawasaki Motors Enterprise (Thailand) Co., Ltd. founded in Thailand 
 2000 Yamaha      Yamaha Motor Asian Center Co., Ltd. (YMAC) founded in Thailand 
 2001 Suzuki   Suzuki Motor R&D Asia Co., Ltd. (a motorcycle R&D compan
y) is established in Thailand. 

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