Tripetch Isuzu Sales Co expects to see its sales reach a new high of 210,000 units this year due mainly to the launch of the redesigned Isuzu D-Max pickup in October 2011, last year's floods and the government's first-time-car-buyer tax break.
Tripetch president Hiroshi Nakagawa said the overall Thai automotive industry had expanded to record highs, and Isuzu’s sales volume had also grown to its highest point this year.
At the end of September, Isuzu sales already totalled 200,000 units, compared with 130,00 for all of last year. Its previous sales record was 160,000 units in 2005.
Because of high demand for its pickups and a delivery delay of three to four months after last year’s floods, Isuzu recently raised its production capacity through a new Bt6.5-billion plant at Gateway City Industrial Estate. The new plant commenced production last month.
Isuzu also has a plant in Samut Prakan. When production at the two plants is fully merged in February, annual production capacity will reach 400,000 units.
The government’s first-car policy winds up at the end of this year, which Nakagawa said was expected to lower auto sales by 5-10 per cent in 2013. He conceded that vehicle purchases increased sharply this year on demand fuelled by the tax-break policy.
This year is likely to see total auto production of 2 million units and domestic sales of 1.4 million.
Recently, Tripetch Isuzu Sales proposed that Isuzu of Japan increase production capacity to cope with rising demand in Thailand.
Nakagawa said several carmakers, including Honda, Nissan and Mazda, planned to increase their production capacity.
“With carmakers’ plans to increase capacity, auto-parts makers may have to double their production capacity within the next five years,” Nakagawa said.
Currently, Isuzu, which has resumed 100-per-cent operations after last year’s floods, faces three-to-four-month delays in delivery. About 60 per cent of the vehicles Isuzu produces in Thailand are delivered domestically and the rest are exports, which also have faced delays.
After the Asean Economic Community takes effect in a couple of years, Nakagawa expects to see sharp increases in market demand, and there remain opportunities for Isuzu to expand, particularly with big trucks and pickups for commercial purposes.
Given the AEC, Thailand is geographically located as a strategic area for transport of goods and services, and logistics systems will be used more.
Nakagawa said neighbouring countries had their own dealers and authorised distributors, and when the AEC takes shape in 2015, the Isuzu outlets in these countries might increase.
Isuzu has been considering a distribution plan for Myanmar and expects to reach a conclusion soon.