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Western Carmakers Rush to Tap Southeast Asia

Volkswagen has joined a rush by Western carmakers to tap fast-growing Southeast Asian markets to take on Japanese rivals in a region where a burgeoning middle class has money to spend.Volkswagen is seeking to set up operations in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries where the German group has one of the few remaining gaps in its global factory network that encompasses more than 100 facilities.VW has applied to build its first plant in Thailand, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday, seeking to take advantage from tax breaks that already attracted investment from Ford and General Motors.VW declined to comment.Auto manufacturers in Europe and the U.S. are following Japanese rivals such as Toyota and Nissan in launching inexpensive and fuel-efficient models, taking aim at a market featuring increased export and domestic demand and a skilled workforce.VW's plans for Thailand were reported late Tuesday by Bloomberg. The German group currently...

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