TOKYO -- Sony will launch a new smartphone factory in Thailand, setting up a start-to-finish production system covering chip mounting through assembly.
Initial investment is expected to total several billion yen. A production line will be added to an existing site in Pathum Thani Province that has been suspended since the massive 2011 floods. Mass production will begin in fiscal 2016, with initial volume slated to reach several million units a year.
Subsidiary Sony EMCS will own and operate the plant, and its Kohda facility in Aichi Prefecture will set up the production line and transfer it to Thailand.
The new Thai factory will be Sony's first plant for the mobile communications segment in 20 years. The last one was built in 1995 in Beijing through a joint venture with three local partners, with Sony owning a 51% interest. Having full ownership of the Thai plant will allow for speedier decision making.
Sony plans to concentrate development operations in Japan for smartphones, image sensors and camera components. High-density packaging, a chip-stacking technology key to downsizing products, is Sony EMCS's forte.
Sony's mobile communications business posted an operating loss of 220 billion yen ($1.82 billion) for the year ended in March due partly to competition from Chinese manufacturers. The company aims to turn the operation around in the year ending March 2017 through payroll cuts, streamlined marketing and other structural reforms.