Driving the economy into a four-wheeled boom


Driving the economy into a four-wheeled boom


It would hardly come as a great surprise to anyone who has attempted to negotiate Bangkok and Pattaya traffic in recent times, that Thailand’s automotive industry has just recorded one of its best years on record.


The Automotive Industry Club, a key member of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), noted vehicle production had hit its highest point since the manufacturing of vehicles began in the country in earnest in 1961.


During 2012 Thailand car manufacturers rolled out 2.45 million units which meant the country ranked as the tenth highest in the world. Those numbers were a massive 68 percent jump from 2011, which of course was severely affected by flooding that struck the industry hard.


Easily the largest single section of the car manufacturing industry proved to be trucks, with 1.49 million units created. Next came passenger vehicles at 957,623 units and 582 buses weighing 10 tonnes or more.


Motorcycles also enjoyed a significant 6.57 percent rise in manufacturing from 2011 with 3.14 million units coming off the assembly line.


It’s worth noting just how close the car manufacturing numbers are getting vis-a-vis motorcycles: the former now 30 percent of the latter. In other words, for every three motorbikes being rolled out there is one passenger vehicle. Given the way the roads seem to be at peak hour it might not be too many years down the track that we start seeing less motorbikes and even more cars.


The FTI noted car sales had skyrocketed by almost 81 percent in 2012 to 1.43 million units; that’s an average of 3,907 cars per day being sold.


On the export front, the news was equally buoyant. A record 1,026,671 units went overseas, up by almost 40 percent on 2011 and this has now become the new benchmark for an industry which only began in the export game in 1988. The value of those exports made


Thailand the seventh largest in the world and the revenue brought over 490 billion baht into the country, a whopping 42 percent rise.
Coming off what was a pretty ordinary 2011 due to the widespread flooding and resultant economic disruption, the figures of 2012 are not expected to be replicated to anything like the same degree for this year.


Nonetheless, the Automotive Industry Club is projecting a five percent overall growth to 2.5 million units. They expect this will break down into 1.4 million for the domestic market and 1.1 million for export. Even these figures will keep Thailand as a prominent player in the world motor vehicle manufacturing market and it is one industry with few forseeable risk factors.