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Auto sales in Thailand fell 9.33% in 2015 to 799,592 units, and another drop is expected in this year due to a new excise tax regime based on CO2 emissions, E85-gasohol compatibility and fuel efficiency; instead of purely engine capacity, Bangkok Post reports.

The new excise tax, which came into effect this year, benefits eco cars but negatively affects the prices of pick-up trucks, passenger cars, pick-up passenger vehicles (PPVs such as the Toyota Fortuner and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport) and SUVs.

Sales of PPVs soared by 42% last year to 69,063 vehicles and SUVs by 37% to 56,952. There was also a rush to purchase in December 2015, where 101,424 cars were sold, the first time monthly sales breached the 100k mark in two years.

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Honda Automobile Thailand chief operating officer Pitak Pruittisarikorn believes that the year-end rush has ate into 2016 sales. “The new excise tax, which takes effect this year, has absorbed future car demand for roughly 15,000 vehicles in last year’s fourth quarter. So this year it’s possible for the market to stay below 765,000 vehicles,” he said, adding that Honda Thailand expects to sell 110,000 units this year.

That would be around the same level as 2015 sales, which were 112,178 units for Honda, up 5.3%. The brand holds 14% market share in Thailand, behind market leader Toyota (33.3%) and Isuzu (18%). Both those brands are big in commercial vehicles, though.

In the passenger car segment, Honda is the leader with 31.5%, followed by Toyota with 29.6%. Honda’s 2015 sales were boosted by the HR-V, which pushed the brand’s SUV sales up by 183% to 34,000 units.


The HR-V did very well in Malaysia too, powering Honda Malaysia to the No.1 non-national spot for the first time at the expense of Toyota (94,902 vs 93,760). The HR-V contributed 21% to total sales, so Honda wouldn’t be near Toyota if not for the B-segment SUV.

This year will be even more interesting for observers, as both non-national heavyweights have big weapons in the arsenal. Honda should be preparing for the BR-V and new Civic, while Toyota has the IMV trio of Hilux, Fortuner and Innova, plus the Alphard and Vellfire MPVs. Sit tight!