Last month, it was reported that Thailand was finally set to lose its position as Southeast Asia’s largest automotive market this year to Indonesia. This is almost a certainty, because the projected 1.2 million vehicle target for 2014 might be revised downwards sometime in the middle of the year.
In March, data from the Federation of Thai Industries showed that auto sales in the Kingdom fell by 45% percent year-on-year. Projected total sales for 2014 was 1.175 million units, which would be a drop of 11.7% from 2013.
Now, it’s looking like that even that is unlikely to be reached – total sales for the first three months was just 224,171 units, nearly 46% less than in Q1 last year.
The Bangkok Post reports that the newly-appointed chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, Ong-arj Pongkijworasin, said the federation may look to revise its domestic sales projection in the middle of the year, given that monthly sales in the first quarter didn’t reach 100,000 units per month.
Accordingly, production volume also went down in March by 29% from the same period last year, with 181,334 vehicles built. In the first three months of 2014, total car production in Thailand amounted to 517,492 units, a drop of nearly 29% year-on-year.
Exports, however, climbed to a six-month high in March, and the 113,313 units shipped out that month made for a 8.77% increase from March 2013.
Many factors have contributed to the slump in domestic sales, including the end of government incentives for first-time car buyers and a slowing economy. Consumer purchasing power is down, eroded by high household debt, and the ongoing political situation is unlikely to help further.
Comparatively, Indonesian sales are projected to increase 6.5% to 1.31 million units this year, so as it goes the region should have a new No 1 automotive market at the end of the year, and by a very clear margin at that.