Looks like the worst is over for the Thai auto market, as the sales forecast for 2017 has been revised upwards to 800,000 units, from the earlier 780,000 units. Factors include the recovering economy and the expiry of the five-year lock-up period for vehicles bought under the first-time car buyer scheme, Bangkok Post reports.

According to Surapong Paisitpatanapong, spokesman for the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) automotive industry club, Thai car sales are expected to jump by 6.7% to the 800k mark next year. If so, it will be the first increase in four years after a downward trend since 2013.

Thai car sales hit 1.45 million units in 2012, boosted by a tax break on first-time car purchases by the previous government, as well as strong demand after major floods hit several provinces in 2011. Sales fell to 1.33 million in 2013, 881,832 in 2014 and 799,592 in 2015. After weaker than expected results from the annual massive year-end car sale that is the Thai Motor Expo, the Detroit of the East is expected to end 2016 with sales of around 750,000 units.

Surapong cited the World Bank’s latest positive forecast on Thailand’s economy for 2017. Earlier this week, the World Bank increased its forecast for Thai GDP growth by 0.1 percentage points to 3.2% next year. Exports of goods and services are expected to rise by 1% in 2017, up from the 0.4% growth predicted for 2016, fuelled by strong US demand.

Cars bought under Thailand’s first car scheme under the Yingluck administration have to be kept for five years. This expires in September and will lead to new car sales.

“Some 20,000 to 30,000 buyers in the government’s first-time car buyer programme are expected to buy new cars, so the club is optimistic about market sentiment next year. I am also confident that financial institutions will ease their lending approval for car buyers once they witness a better economy and declining household debt,” Surapong said.

The expected recovery of the domestic market will power Thai automotive output, which is forecasted to grow by 2.6% next year to two million cars. Exports are expected to remain flat at 1.2 million units due to the uncertain global economy and declining oil prices.

In Malaysia, it will be another uncertain year ahead in terms of auto sales, which peaked at 666,674 units last year. This year, the November year-to-date total industry volume is 597,306 units, some 13.7% lower than the same period last year. With one month to go, the picture won’t be changing much once full year numbers are tabulated.