Auto sales set to rebound strongly
Sales of domestic motor vehicles are expected to rebound strongly this year, although the size of this resurgence varies between a conservative 4.3 percent and an optimistic 13.4 percent, with conflicting forecasts between the industry’s peak body and the leading automotive producer.
On the conservative side, suggesting around a 4.3 percent growth, is Toyota Motor Thailand, the number one automotive seller in the country. The Japanese president of the local Toyota company believes sales will be around 920,000 units across all makes and models, basically mirroring the expected GDP for 2015. Toyota expects sales in the second half of the year to be greater than in the first half.
On the optimistic side of the equation is the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) automotive club which expects sales to reach one million units this year, or 13.4 percent above the 2014 figures.
Both bodies recently released figures which showed domestic car sales in Thailand fell a massive 33.7 percent in 2014 to 881,832 vehicles.
While the Toyota president suggested this sharp drop was due to political unrest in the first half of 2014 as well as depressed prices for farm products, the FTI said the sales reflected genuine demand rather than the inflated figures which took place under the first-time car buyer scheme which ended in 2012. That populist scheme saw an 81 percent surge in sales, but once it ended the fall in sales was dramatic.
Toyota believes the demand for passenger vehicles will be flat, but expects commercial vehicle demand to grow.
Thailand’s total car output fell by 23.5 percent in 2014 to 1.88 million units, falling well short of the FTI’s target of 2.1 million units.
Vehicle exports were also flat, with 1.12 million units shipped overseas, although the value of those exports rose by almost three percent to 527.42 billion baht. When the value of shipping engines and other auto parts is added into the mix, the total revenue amounted to 781.08 billion baht, representing a solid 3.56 percent jump from the previous year.
With the Australian, Asian, and Middle Eastern economies all experiencing sluggish demand, the FTI warns that these areas account for 75 percent of Thailand’s vehicle exports and so there are still some concerns as to what the final results will be for the local marketplace by the end of this year.
The FTI believes car manufacturing numbers will jump to 2.2 million vehicles in 2015, of which 1.2 million will be exported and one millon will be sold domestically.