September 28, 2012 00:00
By Pattanadesh Asasappakij
Whenever I talk to auto company executives, whether from Japan or Europe, the topic is not about the market this year.
That’s because all agree that the auto market in Thailand will see sales of no less than 1.2 million vehicles, the highest achieved so far.
The topic that executives discuss is the market in 2013, since it is known that the government’s First Car Buyer Programme is pulling sales from next year. Thus, auto sales in 2013 would be lower.
Estimates show that sales will be 10 per cent lower in 2013 than in 2012, although two people that I have talked to say that the drop will be higher than that. After taking to many people, my estimate is that auto sales in 2013 will drop by 5-7 per cent.
I believe many executives when they say car companies must think positively. Although sales are expected to drop by 10 per cent, every company thinks it will be able to better the market trend, meaning that its sales will not drop by as much as 10 per cent.
When several big companies say they can do better than others the market, I am confident that the market next year will drop by just 5-7 per cent.
After unofficial talks with auto-makers, I expect growth in the SUV and MPV segments, although the market size won’t be as large. This is because of the changing lifestyle of the new generation, who are now earning more money. Families will also need a special vehicle to travel in during holidays.
Another type of vehicle that will experience growth is the PPV (Pickup Passenger Vehicle) due to their high versatility and more affordable pricing than actual SUVs. The maintenance cost is also at the same level as pickup trucks that they are based upon.
I believe that pickup manufacturers without PPVs in the market right now such as Ford, Mazda and Nissan will launch PPVs next year. I see Nissan getting ready for this and it could be the first of the three to come up with a PPV. This would help it lower the fall in total sales next year.
The First Car scheme has done wonders for 4-door pickup trucks due to the large rebate being offered. So we will be seeing lots of them on the roads next year, and this will serve as a good stimulus for 4-door pickup sales next year as well.
Similarly, eco-cars, which have enjoyed tremendous sales this year leading to long back orders, will be filling up the streets next year. This will also be a good boost for eco-cars in 2013.
All these factors will prevent the market from dropping too much next year, although the purchasing power has been taken in advance in 2012.
Another important factor that I believe will help support the market next year is the competition among finance companies. Judging from what is going on this year, we can see that almost every company has been repositioning or changing personnel for the auto hire-purchase market for both new and old automobiles. This means that finance companies are preparing to penetrate the market even more next year.
Although these topics discussed come from personal belief and cannot be officially quoted, I still feel the information I received is all true. And I am confident that the auto market will continue to sizzle next year.