M'bish, Panasonic eye greater shares of Thai air conditioner market

BANGKOK, NNA - Two Japanese electronics giants, Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and Panasonic Corp., are ramping up sales for greater slices of the pie in the Thai air conditioner market, aiming to cash in on growing demand for energy-saving products equipped with an inverter function.

Mitsubishi, commanding a market share of over 30 percent in Thailand last year, will leverage reduced sales by enhancing inverter-controlled products in the middle price range this year, while Panasonic continues to promote high-end inverter models to boost its share to 23 percent in 2018, up 2 percentage points from the previous year, according to their local arms.

Praphon Potivorakun, deputy managing director of Mitsubishi Electric Kang Yong Watana Co., said the air conditioner market "dropped by 10 percent" in 2017.

The company forecasts its total home appliance sales will fall 10 percent to over 13.5 billion baht ($429 million) in the current business year ending in March, likely dragged down by falling air conditioner sales, which account for about 60 percent of the total, due to relatively cool weather in 2017.

It is launching the "JP Series" of new inverter air conditioners for the first time in the Southeast Asian country, with average 5 to 10 percent lower prices to target the middle class. The firm said it is aiming to grab a 40 percent market share this year.

The Thai air conditioner market will bounce back 10 percent in 2018 to 26 billion baht, equivalent to 1.3 to 1.4 million units, according to the Mitsubishi arm.

In the next fiscal year from April, the local unit's total sales including other products could "grow over 8 to 10 percent to reach more than 14.5 billion baht" in line with recovery in the home appliance market on the back of economic growth expected to exceed 4 percent, government stimulus measures and private investment expansion, it said.

Managing Director Yasushi Moriyama of the Mitsubishi subsidiary predicts that the ratio of inverter models to total air conditioner sales will double from the current 25 percent to 50 percent in the near future amid rising demand for energy-saving and eco-friendly specifications.

Panasonic launched a new series of inverter air conditioners last year and achieved a 2 percent year-on-year gain in sales in the category amid a 10 percent shrinkage in the overall air conditioner market in volume terms, said Hiroyuki Kitano, managing director of Panasonic AP Sales (Thailand) Co.

Panasonic's local sales unit plans to release this year a total of 28 high-end inverter models with prices ranging from 32,900 to 49,900 baht, the highest level among air conditioners it sells in the country.

The company said it expects to boost sales 20 percent to 357,000 units to garner a larger market share in 2018. (NNA/Kyodo)