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Ford, Mazda putting $500 million into ASEAN plant

Auto Alliance Thailand plant to increase production to 275,000 cars annually, focus on small vehicles.

Ford Motor and Mazda Motor plan to invest $500 million into a flexible small car manufacturing plant in Thailand, both companies announced Tuesday.

The plant, which is run through Ford and Mazda's joint venture company known as the Auto Alliance Thailand, will resemble the $510 million plant that was recently opened in Nanjing, China. It will include a set-up for producing small-size cars with the first to be available by 2009, according to Ford.

The plant will also have a new paint shop to accommodate Ford's three-wet paint process that Ford says reduces VOC and CO2 emissions, as well as improves paint job quality.

Collectively, Ford and Mazda have already invested a total of $1 billion in the Auto Alliance Thailand. This addition of $500 million will increase production capacity from 175,000 to 275,000 cars per year, according to Ford.

Both companies said the investment illustrates their commitment to ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) which includes Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand among others.