Vehicle production passes 2 million mark

Thailand's vehicle production this year exceeded two million units for the first time, boosted by big jumps in domestic sales and exports.

  • Published: 23/11/2012 at 02:28 PM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

The Thai Automotive Industry Club, which represents manufacturers, had set a target of two million units for the year, but exceeded the target this month, Payungsak Chartsutipol, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, said on Friday.

"The club has now set itself a target of manufacturing three million units a year within five years,'' Mr Payungsak said.

Thailand is now ranked the 10th largest vehicle manufacturer worldwide and sixth largest exporter of vehicles and automotive parts, he said. The automotive industry accounts for about 10% of gross domestic product.

Foreign earnings this year from automotive exports have exceeded one trillion baht, Mr Payungsak said.

Thailand has been the main hub for vehicle production in Southeast Asia since the early 1980s, when the government started to offer tax incentives to lure manufacturers to assemble locally for the domestic and export markets.

The country has also attracted an extensive auto parts manufacturing industry, primarily from Japan.

All major Japanese automotive manufacturers have set up assembly and manufacturing bases in Thailand, as have the German companies Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, better known as BMW, and Daimler AG, makers of Mercedes Benz, and US manufacturers Ford Motor Co and General Motors Co.

During the first nine months of this year, factories in Thailand manufactured some 1.7 million vehicles, of which about 742,000 were exported. Last year, the country's total vehicle production amounted to 1,457,795 million units, with 735,627 vehicles exported.

The sector was hard hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which slowed the supply of parts to Thailand-based manufacturers, and the devastating floods in October that year, which inundated parts of Bangkok and neighbouring provinces, forcing several industrial estates to close for months.

"This year's rapid growth in sales is partly due to pent-up demand from last year, when we lost an estimated 300,000 units in sales to the natural disasters,'' said Suphrat Siriwuwannakul, chairman of the Thai Automotive Industry Club.

Thailand's two best-selling models on both the domestic and export markets are one-tonne pickup trucks and eco-cars.

The government has slashed excise taxes on locally manufactured pickup trucks and eco-cars to attract manufacturers.

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