HONDA IS POISED to win the Thai passenger-car crown for the first time in history after leading arch-rival Toyota in sales during the first 11 months of this year.
But there are complications that could affect Honda’s outstanding performance with just a few days left in 2013, and it is about the way various car models are classified.
According to figures from Toyota Motor Thailand Co, which is normally quoted by the media as the designated auto-sales compiler, passenger-car sales figures do not include models such as the Honda CR-V or Mazda CX-5, which TMT classifies as commercial vehicles. However, both the CR-V and CX-5, although seen as sport-utility vehicles, are taxed as passenger cars.
The passenger-car tally from Toyota states that Honda was the leader in the segment during the first 11 months with sales of 178,973 units, while Toyota was second with 172,916 units.
However, Honda says it includes the CR-V in its passenger-car figures because that is how it is taxed, and insists that its overall sales from January to November amounted to 198,005 units, giving it a much wider lead over Toyota’s 172,916.
Sales figures obtained from the Japanese Chamber of Commerce also categorise the CR-V and the CX-5 in the passenger-car market.
An industry source told The Nation that the CR-V should be classified as a passenger car.
With the newly launched Toyota Yaris eco-car enjoying extremely high popularity after its launch in late October and taking up a large number of the orders placed this month, full-year figures from Toyota could see the country’s biggest automaker overtaking Honda in its CR-V-absent passenger-car sales chart.
Nevertheless, total auto sales for the first 11 months in both aggregates are similar at 1.21 million units, down 5.8 per cent, with Toyota amassing 404,151 units, down 15.1 per cent for a 33.2-per-cent market share. In second position is Honda with 198,005 units, up 31.4 per cent for a 16.3-per-cent market share, followed by commercial-vehicle powerhouse Isuzu with 188,365 units, down 1.8 per cent for a 15.5-per-cent market share.
Vudhigorn Suriyachantananont, senior vice president of Toyota Motor Thailand, said the slight decline was a result of the slowdown of deliveries from the first-car-buyer scheme since May, as well as production cuts by automakers for many major models in preparation for introduction of their new successors scheduled for 2014.
However, he said the market would rebound this month, when sales are usually highest in the year thanks to promotions and the popularity of newly launched models.
MEANWHILE, Pitak Prutthisari-korn, executive vice president at Honda Automobile, said the marque’s sales growth this year was attributed mainly to the introduction of the Brio Amaze, which increased the number of models that qualified for the first-car programme to six.
“We received a large number of orders for this group of vehicles and a large number of deliveries were postponed to this year,” he said.