Covid-19 pandemic may slash Thai car output to 1 mil. units this year
BANGKOK, NNA – Thailand’s automobile output might be cut by half to one million units this year as the Covid-19 pandemic has forced carmakers to suspend production and dampened demand in the domestic and export markets, an industry body says.
The Federation of Thai Industries predicted in late April that auto production would drop to 1.4 million units if the novel coronavirus outbreak continued in the first half of this year, and it would plunge to about half of the more than two million output figure in 2019 if it lingered until the end of September.
One million units would be far below the level in 2011, a time when massive flooding in the greater capital region disrupted social and economic activities.
Even though five of eight major carmakers had partially restarted factory operations by early this month, Surapong Paisitpattanapong, spokesman for the FTI's automotive industry division, told NNA this week that the federation still maintains its grim outlook.
Total car shipments for the domestic and international markets would evenly account for half this year, he added.
In Thailand, Southeast Asia’s car manufacturing hub, the eight largest carmakers, mostly Japanese firms, had begun suspending production between late March and early April in response to a state of emergency effective on March 26.
Auto Alliance (Thailand) Co., the Thai joint venture between Japan’s Mazda Motor Corp. and Ford Motor Co., was the first among them to resume operations on April 27, followed by Honda Motor Co., Isuzu Motors Ltd., Suzuki Motor Corp. and Toyota Motor Co. by May 11, according to their spokespersons.
Nissan Motor Co. has continued smaller production of passenger cars while halting the output of commercial vehicles in Thailand since April 6, said Natalie Scarr, a spokeswoman for Nissan Motor Asia Pacific Co., its regional headquarters in Bangkok.
For new vehicle sales this year, FTI’s Surapong said, “We might cut the whole-year domestic sales target from one million units to 500,000-700,000 units.”