The investment will allow Umicore to meet the increasing demand for automotive catalysts in the fast growing market in South East Asia, the company says.

Construction of the facility will begin in the New Year and commissioning is expected in the second half of 2016. The plant will be situated in a special economic zone near Rayong that is near the major automotive plants. Japanese automotive producers make up the majority of this new business and Umicore will serve these Japanese customers through its Umicore Shokubai joint venture with Nippon Shokubai.

Automotive hub

In recent years Thailand has become the hub of South East Asia's automotive industry. Of the four million vehicles produced in the region last year, over half were produced in Thailand. Sales of passenger cars and light duty trucks are expected to continue their strong growth and governments in the region are also working to tackle the issue of air quality, particularly in the big cities. Thailand, for example, currently imposes an automotive emission standard that is the equivalent of Euro 4.