Toyota, Thailand’s largest auto-maker, says it expects the Thai auto market to grow by 9 per cent to 600,000 units this year.Toyota Motor Thailand president Kyoichi Tanada said passenger-car sales would reach 251,000 units while commercial-vehicle sales would reach 349,000 units, of which 272,000 units would be pure pickups.

Speaking at the company’s annual press conference, Tanada said there were several factors that would enable growth in 2010. In 2009, the total automobile market suffered a 28-per-cent plunge in the first half of the year, but there was a rebound in the second-half and the year ended with sales of 548,871 units, dropping by 10.8 per cent year on year.

The fall in the passenger-car market was limited to just 1.4 per cent, to 230,037 units, thanks to increased popularity of small and fuel-efficient models. The market for commercial vehicles declined by 17.9 per cent in 2009 to 318,834 units. Of these, 240,887 were pure pickup models, representing a fall of 20.4 per cent in this segment.

“A revival of the automobile industry occurred at the end of 2009 as a result of several economic-stimulus packages introduced by the government, such as the Thai Khemkhaeng projects I and II, which aimed to invest in the economic system, an increase in agricultural product prices and tax privileges under various free trade agreements,” he said.
Toyota sees Thai market growing by 9% in 2010
Tanada said the pickup segment would be a major player this year and would have a favourable affect on the market. “In spite of last year’s decrease in pickup sales, it is believed that the pickup market will grow and follow the economic upturn,” he said.
Toyota plans to sell a total of 257,000 vehicles in Thailand this year, up 11.5 per cent compared to 2009, and hopes to maintain the 42.8-per-cent market share it held in 2009, with sales of 111,000 passenger cars and 146,000 commercial vehicles, including 114,500 pure pickups.Tanada said he was convinced that Toyota would be able to hold on to leadership in all three major domestic markets this year.

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Camilla Davidsson is a photographer based in Bangkok

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