Shifting gears: Thai auto parts makers urged to spark new path in medical devices

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The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) is urging local auto parts manufacturers to adapt to the technological disruption caused by electric vehicles (EVs) and transition to producing medical devices, which are projected to have a promising future.

According to the FTI, auto parts makers accustomed to internal combustion engines are finding it difficult to adapt to electric mobility technology, as many of their products are no longer needed by EV makers. FTI Vice-Chairman Isares Rattanadilok Na Phuket sees this shift as an opportunity to stimulate the economy in different sectors.

“We will discuss this shift with the government and hope to create new product champions in the medical field. This can become another effort to stimulate the economy.”

A cluster under FTI Mobility-ONE, a new unit within the federation, advocates auto parts producers to pivot to manufacturing medical products. These products include both single-use devices like diagnostic test kits and durable items such as wheelchairs and hospital beds.

This cluster, known as CFM-ONE, was established last year to support the development of Thailand’s automotive industry and assist car and auto parts companies in overcoming business challenges.

The FTI includes up to 1,700 auto parts manufacturers, most of which are small or medium-sized original equipment manufacturers categorised as tier 2 and tier 3 in the auto parts supply chain. Tier 1 producers are typically subsidiaries of global car companies.

Second and third-tier manufacturers, experienced in plastic stamping and processes involving rubber and electronics, have the potential to transition to producing medical devices.

Krungsri Research predicts robust growth for Thai medical device manufacturers from 2023 to 2025. The value of goods distributed domestically and internationally is expected to increase by an annual average of 5.5 to 7.0% and 6.5 to 7.5%, respectively.

Several factors will drive market growth, including an ageing society and the corresponding rise in illness rates, the threat of newly emerging diseases, increased interest in preventive healthcare post-pandemic, and growing demand for medical tourism.

Wellness and medical tourism is one of the government’s 12 targeted S-curve industries with significant growth potential. According to Krungsri Research, Thailand is globally recognised for its high quality of care and low costs.

CFM-ONE has previously stated its intention to collaborate with global car manufacturers to assist local auto parts makers who wish to remain in the automotive industry in transitioning to producing parts for electric vehicles, reported Bangkok Post.

Business NewsThailand News

Ryan Turner

Ryan is a journalism student from Mahidol University with a passion for history, writing and delivering news content with a rich storytelling narrative.

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