USbased automaker Chevrolet has called on the Thai government to ensure that there are more fuel stations offering E85 gasohol.
Yesterday the company introduced the Captiva FlexFuel sportutility vehicle, which is capable of running on E85, a mixture of 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent petrol. The company plans to sell about 600 units of the new Captiva per month.
Martin Apfel, president of General Motors (GM) Southeast Asia Operations, GM Thailand and Chevrolet Sales Thailand, said: "We need more stations where people can purchase E85 as well as more ethanol production."
Chevrolet had previously offered a CNG (compressed natural gas) version of the Optra, which was highly successful.
He said the Thai government should support the agricultural sector in the growing of ethanol crops.
"If ethanol can be provided at a low price, then selfsusฌtainability can be achieved much more easily with more E85 stations in the country," he said.
PTT, the largest retailer of E85 fuel, currently offers it in only 23 stations countrywide.
Chevrolet has been enjoying strong sales growth since 2010, when it achieved 30per cent growth year on year compared with 2009.
Apfel said Chevrolet planned to double sales thanks to new products such as the Cruze subcompact launched this year and the Captiva. The automaker plans to launch more products in the Thai market this year, including a redesigned Colorado 1tonne pickup truck.
"We plan to achieve a 10per cent market share by 2013 based on the new models we are going to introduce in more market segments with more models and the freshest showroom in Thailand in a few months," he said.
Chevrolet executives also noted that auto sales in Thailand could reach 920,000 units this year, higher than any other auto producer's forecast.
"At this moment I see no reason not to be optimistic. If there is nothing [that gets] in the way, then I would expect growth," Apfel said.
Antonio Zara, vice president for sales, marketing and aftersales, said, "Interest rates may have gone up marginally, but the availability of credit is much more, and this is No 1 for growth in auto sales."