Ford high on Thai prospects after 30 percent rise in pickup sales



The head of Ford Thailand said she is optimistic about the outlook for her company’s business in the Kingdom this year following a 30 percent increase in sales of the Ranger, the company’s leading pickup truck brand, during the first seven months of 2016, leading the automaker to launch six new variants of the model in the local market last week.

Ford’s market share rose from January through July to 8.5 percent from 6.4 percent last year, making Ford the third best-selling brand in the pickup segment after Isuzu and Toyota, according to Ford Thailand’s Managing Director Yukontorn Wisadkosin. Since mid-2014, she has believed Ford’s prospects in Thailand have been improving, prompting the company to introduce 16 variants of the Ranger model so it could meet growing demand in a market that is turning around. Last week, Ford added another six variants under its XL, XLS and FX4 designations.

“We believe all 22 Rangers variants will make Ford’s pickup truck brand stronger and drive the company’s performance,” Yukontorn said.

Thailand is one of the largest markets in the world for pickup trucks, and the Ranger has accounted for 73.6 percent of Ford’s sales in Thailand this year, up from 65.4 percent last year. In the passenger car segment, Ford also yesterday reported that its sales had risen by 18.4 percent to 5,690 vehicles over the first seven months of 2016.

Ford first gained a foothold in industrialized Thailand in the early 1990s when it introduced the Jeep to the Thai market, after successfully convincing the Thai government to adjust regulations that allowed the Jeep to compete on a level playing field with competitors from other countries.

Ford’s current optimism about the Thai auto market preceded an actual turnaround in the sector. Vehicle sales in Thailand grew for the third straight month in June, according to the Federation of Thai Industries Automotive Club. Local distribution reached 66,049 units, 9.5 percent higher than a year ago, and an increase of 0.02 percent from a month ago.

Vehicle production rose 19 percent in June compared to one year ago and 6.8 percent from May to 179,875 units. While the domestic market has just begun to stir, vehicle exports have been robust. Exports rose 39.4 percent in June compared to a year ago, reaching 107,025 units. Higher purchase orders for passenger cars and double-cab pickup trucks from several overseas markets drove the increase, the Federation said.

Vehicle exports totaled $1.64 billion in June, a surge of 64 percent year on year.