Thai auto sales shift into high gear

The road ahead looks clear and inviting as vehicle sales in Thailand shifted into high gear in April, accelerating by 25.2 percent year-on-year, and by over 15 percent during the first quarter of 2018 as vehicle exports also rose by over 5 percent for the sixth straight month of increases.

Vehicle sales and exports are important indicators of the state of the Thai economy, with domestic sales serving as a barometer for consumption and consumer confidence, while exports provide a window into the Kingdom’s general competitiveness.

“Thailand’s economy has seen improvement, and the large number of new automobile models plus sales promotions from the start of the year has served as contributing factors to the market growth,” said Vudhigorn Suriyachantananont, executive vice president at Toyota Motor (Thailand), which tracks domestic vehicle sales for the entire industry.

April was no aberration, in Vudhigorn’s view, as he expressed confidence that sales would continue to rise in May as the economy sustains its upswing and dealers and finance companies compete to offer attractive financing packages to prospective buyers.

A total of 79,206 vehicles were sold in April, according to Toyota, which led other carmakers in total sales both in April and throughout the first four months of the year.

Toyota also set the pace for the first quarter, selling 87,502 vehicles, an increase of 14.2 percent, followed by Isuzu and Honda with 59,080 and 38,869 respectively.

Toyota also led the passenger car segment with four-month sales of 33,463 vehicles, up 8.7 percent. Rival Japanese carmaker Isuzu, however, topped the commercial vehicle market. From January to April, Isuzu sold 59,080 commercial vehicles, for 9.8-percent growth. Although Toyota posted 17.9 percent growth during this period, it still trailed in commercial vehicles with 54,039 sold.

Meanwhile, vehicle exports posted increases for the sixth straight month, rising by 5.2 percent year on year in April, according to the Federation of Thai Industries. The Federation said that Thailand shipped 72,571 vehicles that month.

A total of 367,801 vehicles were exported from January to April, a 4.1 percent increase compared to the same period last year.