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Southeast Asia’s auto plants limp along at 30% of capacity

BANGKOK/JAKARTA — Auto factories throughout Southeast Asia are operating at only 30% of capacity as the coronavirus outbreak undercuts new vehicle purchases.

Thailand issued an emergency declaration March 26, but the order let factories continue operations. That did not stop Toyota Motor, the country’s top auto producer, from shutting its three Thai assembly plants Tuesday until April 17.

“The move may be in the interest of preventing infections, but the loss of demand was a big factor,” a Toyota insider said.

Thai auto sales fell 17% on the year in February, and the outcome appears similar for March. Mitsubishi Motors 

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