Yamaha bets on new Thai-made moped to rev up sales in Thailand

BANGKOK, NNA - Japan's Yamaha Motor Co. has launched its new Thai-made 115 cc moped called "Finn" in a bid to boost its sales of small-class motorcycles in Thailand.

Finn went on sale through dealers nationwide on Oct. 10, targeting riders aged 20-35 with prices ranging from 39,900-44,500 baht ($1,205-1,344). More than 7,400 vehicles have been sold so far against the company's goal of selling 6,000 units a month, according to its Thai unit, Thai Yamaha Motor Co.

Praphan Phornthanavarsit, Thai Yamaha's chief operating officer, said the new model will help increase the company's share in the Thai moped segment, which accounts for half of the total motorcycle market in the country, from 5 percent currently to over 10 percent next year.

After winning a high market share of over 20 percent in the other segments, including sport and automatic motorbikes, the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer is paying more attention to moped models to strengthen its sales portfolio.

Besides Finn, Yamaha has provided three moped models in the Thai market -- Spark, Exciter and Jupiter. Yamaha Spark, the longest-selling one, introduced in December 2001, has also been the best-selling model with monthly sales of 3,000 units.

Thai Yamaha Motor has spent three years working with the Yamaha Motor Asian Center, its regional research and development center in Thailand, to jointly develop a modern design for Yamaha Finn. The Japanese company hopes Finn will replace Spark as sales of the popular model will end next year.

According to Praphan, there is a high possibility of exporting the Finn model to Laos and Cambodia in the future.

Yamaha expects to hold a 17 percent share in the overall market in Thailand this year, up from last year's 14 percent, due to the recovering Thai economy, growing sales of sport and automatic motorbikes as well as the launch of the Finn moped.

Thailand's motorcycle market is forecast to reach 1.8 million vehicles this year, up 3 percent from last year's 1.74 million units, while Yamaha aims to grow 22 percent with total sales of 300,000 vehicles. (NNA/Kyodo)