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After boom, auto sales settle down

THAI AUTO sales are expected to decline by 9.5 per cent to 1.3 million units this year as the previously overblown market returns to normalcy, according to Toyota Motor Thailand president Kyoichi Tanada.

Tanada told journalists at Toyota's mid-year press conference that although a record 740,795 vehicles were sold in Thailand during the first half of 2013, a 22.1-per-cent growth compared to the same period in 2012, the market is expected to decline slightly during the second half.

Last year, more than 1.4 million vehicles were sold in Thailand, thanks to the government's First Car Buyer scheme that offered cash rebates of up to Bt100,000 per vehicle.

The large number of orders placed resulted in back-order deliveries being carried over to 2013, but since May the market has started showing signs of slowing down, and this is expected to remain throughout the year, Tanada said. He said auto sales are expected to stabilise at 1.2 million units during the next several years.

"Although there is a decline compared to last year, the Thai economy is not in a bad condition, so as much as 100,000 vehicles could be sold per month during the second half of the year," Tanada said.

In 2015, the Asean Economic Community will help boost sales. And in 2016, a large number of buyers will rush to buy vehicles before the new CO2 excise tax takes effect, which could affect the prices of automobiles such as pickup trucks.

Suparat Sirisuwannangkura, Toyota Thailand's executive vice president, said the 150 grams per kilometre CO2 limit could be achieved by passenger cars, but the stringent limit is more difficult for diesel-powered pickup trucks.

"In 2016, the prices of pickup trucks are expected to increase due to the higher excise tax than the present 3 per cent, and in 2015 many customers will rush to place orders before the year ends," he said.

Meanwhile, Toyota plans to produce a total of 450,000 vehicles in Thailand this year along with exporting another 438,000 vehicles to global markets. Total Toyota exports from Thailand comprising automobiles and original equipment manufacturer parts are expected to reach Bt251 billion this year.

The new Vios will be instrumental in helping the company achieve its targets this year, and it will also be Toyota's first passenger car to be exported from Thailand to destinations outside the Asean region.

"Apart from the Asean region, the Vios will be exported to the Middle East as well as South America, totalling 58 countries," said Toyota Thailand executive vice president Wichien Emprasertsuk, adding that as much as half of Vios production (20,000 units per month) will be exported.

Another major model from Toyota is its eco-car, which will be produced at the new Gateway plant in Chachoengsao and launched later this year.


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