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Automakers eye much-needed sales boost as economic climate improves

Automakers are hoping that the easing economic atmosphere will help revive sales during the second part of the year, after suffering a 42-per-cent plunge during the first five months.

New models and auto shows where attractive promotions are offered will help bring back sales during the second half, although it is unlikely that the figure will exceed 1 million units for the full year.

"Total domestic auto sales in Thailand could finish in the range of 950,000 to 985,000 units this year," Pitak Pruittisarikorn, Honda Automobile Thailand chief operating officer said, during the public launch of the Honda Accord Hybrid on Tuesday.

The Accord Hybrid is one of the all-new models being exhibited at the "FAST Auto Show", which opened yesterday at Bitec (Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre).

The event, which goes on until Sunday, features 15 automobile companies as well as six used-car dealers. Organisers expect 3,000 new vehicles to be sold at the show, along with 1,000 used autos.

The Nissan Navara pickup is another all-new model that is attracting customer orders at the Bitec show, which also boasts a large number of promotions.

For example, Mazda is offering a choice of 0.99-per-cent interest plus insurance or Bt5,000 discount plus Bt2,000 monthly fuel credit for up to 24 months for the Mazda2, while Mitsubishi is offering zero interest along with a triple lucky draw with gold necklaces and fuel cards worth Bt100,000 from Shell.

Chalatchai Paphatphong, the show's vice organising chairman for new vehicles, said: "It is believed that Thailand's auto market has passed its worst moment. But for the rest of the year, market recovery will depend on the country's economy.

"Considering the current situation, with the direction of the economic development plans getting clearer, combined with the recovery in consumer spending, it also depends on how much purchasing power will return, as well.

"This means that if the economy recovers, purchasing power would rebound, too. So it is possible that the overall economy will improve."

He said the automotive industry in the second half was difficult to predict because there were many factors involved.


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