Ford passes Nissan to move into fifth place in auto sales

With a 28 percent increase in sales in the first half of 2018 United States automaker Ford Motor Corporation surpassed Japan’s Nissan Motors to take fifth place in vehicle sales in Thailand, a market that has been dominated by Japanese car companies for decades.

Ford attributed its accelerating sales to Thai consumers’ affinity for its Ranger pickup truck and Everest sport utility vehicle (SUV). Thailand has been one of the largest pickup truck markets in the world for more than two decades. Sales of one-ton pickup trucks are nearly half of all automobile sales in Thailand.

“The continuing growth in popularity of the Ranger and Everest reflects the ongoing strength of the pickup segment and increasing consumer shift towards utility vehicles, which certainly play to our global strengths,’’ said Yukontorn Wisadkosin, president of Ford ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

Ford reported total vehicle sales of 32,677 units during the first half of 2018 for a 28 percent increase over the same period last year. Of those sales, the Ranger accounted for 27,455 vehicles, a 36 percent increase compared to the first half of 2017. Last year, Ford sold 44,533 Rangers for all of last year, so the company is on pace to surpass that figure in 2018.

The Everest, a mid-size SUV, sold 4,455 units during the first of the year, an increase of 22 percent compared to the same period last year, although sales slowed during the second quarter to just 2 percent over the previous year. The SUV segment of the market is firmly in the grips of Toyota and Honda.

“We expect demand for these two nameplates will continue to rise throughout the second half of the year as we prepare to launch new models of both Ranger and Everest, and start customer deliveries of the Ranger Raptor,’’ Yukontorn said. Raptor production in Thailand began last month, and the company said deliveries would begin next month.

Ford began operating in Thailand in 1961 but withdrew from the market in the 1980s and early 1990s. With changes in policies, laws, and incentives in the mid-1990s, Ford and other American carmakers returned to Thailand, although the bulk of the vehicles they manufacture in the Kingdom are for export.

Ford has been determined, however, to capture more of Thailand’s domestic market and has been making steady progress on that front.