WWL has had a presence in Thailand since 1999, with its vehicle distribution facility based near the main port of Laem Chabang.

From there, it provides an extensive factory-to-dealer network to neighbouring countries, including Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. It carries out inspections, value-added services, storage and distribution for both the export market and the region with a fleet of 100 car carriers. And it also handles customs formalities for many of its customers.

“We can provide the full chain of services from the end of the production line or from terminal to delivery at the dealer, including the customs clearance and value-added services,” says Sirapon Amornsakaya, Head of WWL’s Land-Based Operations in South East Asia.

“Around 2.5 million vehicles are produced in Thailand annually, and being at the heart of the region we are ideally placed to carry out customers’ distribution needs directly from their factories to the dealership or to the port terminal for onward shipping.”

Thailand has the region’s largest deep-sea port, an extensive, good-quality road network and border connections with all the main destination countries. 

“When you consider that there are some 160 million people in these countries, demand for regionally built vehicles will only grow in the next few years,” Amornsakaya says.

Coupled with this, member states of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) are set to implement new regulations that will incentivise and boost trade amongst the nations. And although there are still border restrictions between some countries, these are expected to ease in the coming years as links between the AEC countries grow.

A range of transport options

WWL already has several dedicated logistics routes established. For example, WWL regularly transports finished vehicles using the same bonded truck and trailer all the way from Laem Chabang to dealers in Laos. This journey typically takes around eight hours.

WWL is also aiming to set up a route from Thailand to Vietnam, with many cities just over 1,000 kilometres away, but at the moment there are still border restrictions. The distance from Laem Chabang port to Hanoi is just 1,500 kilometres, and the trip can be done in just two days, much shorter than by sea. So lifting the restrictions would give customers a significant advantage.

In Myanmar, WWL has established a company in Yangon to facilitate distribution from Yangon port to dealers in Yangon city, as well as upcountry to Naypyidaw and Mandalay. WWL is now gearing up to make the connection with the Thai trucks at the border so it can move vehicles across to Myanmar from Thailand. Myanmar has completed a new motorway from Yangon to the Thai border, meaning that Yangon is only 1,000 kilometres from Laem Chabang port.

“With 57 million people in Myanmar, it certainly makes sense for them to source their vehicles from nearby Thailand than import them from Japan, the US or Europe,” Amornsakaya says.

In Cambodia, Thai trucks transporting the vehicles can only drive 11 kilometres into a free trade zone past the border at the moment. Therefore, WWL works with a local Cambodian partner that transports the units to Phnom Penh and other destinations in Cambodia. “This is much more efficient than shipping via Sihanoukville Port in Cambodia,” Amornsakaya says.

Typically, there are two to three trips to Cambodia every fortnight. WWL hopes that border restrictions will be lifted soon, making it possible to travel beyond Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City, for example.

A more frequent service

Using Thailand as a hub for exports to nearby markets reduces the lead time considerably and means that inland shipments can be consolidated, so they are much more frequent.

“We can take vehicles from different customers and consolidate them onto a truck,” Amornsakaya says. “They then don’t have to wait until the truck is full before it leaves, making it possible to transport the vehicles in smaller but more regular shipments.

“Ultimately, a manufacturer doesn’t want to produce a unit and let it sit in stock, waiting for a vessel. WWL can immediately take the vehicle on our trucks for distribution to the end destination, reducing both inventory costs and lead time.”