Thailand’s total sales of vehicles in the first four months of 2010 January-April reached 223,361 units, up 58 per cent from the corresponding period last year.
According to Mazda Sales Thailand Co.Toyota retained its rank as the top distributor with 92,406 units, up 53.3 per cent, followed by Isuzu with 46,071 units, up 43.8 per cent, Honda with 29,739 units, up 78.8 per cent, Nissan with 13,208 units, up 75 per cent, Mitsubishi with 10,483 unit, up 100.9 per cent, and Mazda with 10,483 units, up 219 per cent.
Total vehicle sales in April were 57,111 units, up 44 per cent from the same month the year before.Of this, 24,367 units are cars, up 69 per cent, 22,235 units are one-ton pickups, up 18 per cent, and 10,509 units are other kinds of vehicles.Mazda Sales Managing Director John Ray said the auto market in Thailand had enjoyed a more promising prospect since 2009, particularly in November. He conceded the inauguration of Mazda 2 had pushed up local vehicle sales, particularly the B-Segment vehicles, for six consecutive months. TNA
Automotive manufacturing in Thailand started 50 years ago after a Japanese company set up operations as an import substitution activity to take advantage of preferential tax and import duty treatment. Laws mandating local content were subsequently introduced, with the limits raised from an initial 30 percent to 40 percent and then 60 percent, to be abolished after the 1997-98 financial crisis.
All pickup truck production prior to the 1997/1998 financial crisis was intended for domestic consumption, but companies began exporting after Japanese pickup producers shifted production from Japan to Thailand at the turn of the century. Tax and excise incentives by the Thai authorities encouraged domestic sales of pickups at the expense of cars, and pickups still amount to almost three-fourths of current output. The cost of local labor appears to amount to just 5 percent of the value of output, half the level in the U.S., likely reflecting much lower wages and the high labor component of imported electronics in Thailand.
Thanks to the relocation of pickup producers to Thailand, and the spillovers into car manufacturing, automotive production has surged in the past decade, rising from about 145,000 cars in 1998 to 1.4 million in 2008, establishing Thailand as the largest automotive producer in Southeast Asia and the largest producer of light pickup trucks in the world.