Toyota expects Thai auto sales to log 8% rise this year

BANGKOK, NNA - Toyota Motor Corp. is aiming to boost its new vehicle sales in Thailand by 8 percent this year and keep its leadership position by introducing new models on the back of the recovering local auto market.

The leading Japanese automaker's Thai arm, Toyota Motor Thailand Co., announced Tuesday that the country's total auto sales in 2016 declined 3.9 percent to 768,788 vehicles from 799,594 in 2015 because of vehicle tax reform launched last year. The taxation changes prompted some consumers to buy new vehicles the previous year before it took effect.

Toyota Motor Thailand President Kyoichi Tanada said the Thai new vehicle market is expected to grow 4.1 percent to 800,000 vehicles this year.

Market growth is attributed to the launch of new models from many brands as well as the end of the government's first-time car buyer scheme that had required motorists to own newly bought cars for at least five years, according to Tanada.

The Thai auto market could see sales of 900,000 vehicles annually, Tanada said, adding that the industry sales "could reach one million vehicles again in the next two to three years if the Thai economy is good."

Toyota's sales in 2016 fell 7.9 percent to 245,087 vehicles, accounting for 31.9 percent of the market, but the company expects this year's sales to grow 8 percent to 265,000 vehicles, boosting its share to 33.1 percent.

Toyota plans to put several new models on the market this year. Last week, the company officially launched a facelifted model of the Toyota Vios, its bestselling sedan with a 1.5-liter engine, targeting monthly sales of 2,600 vehicles.

Toyota is still ranked No. 1 in the overall Thai market as well as in all categories, with a share of over 30 percent each, including 31.2 percent in the passenger car segment and 32.3 percent in commercial vehicles.

According to the Federation of Thai Industries, the local auto industry's total vehicle production is projected to reach two million units this year, up 2.9 percent from last year's 1.94 million vehicles, with 1.2 million or 60 percent of the 2017 total output for export and the rest bound for domestic buyers. (NNA/Kyodo)