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New vehicle sales in Thailand surge during May
New vehicle sales in Thailand surged 27.9% year on year (y/y) during May to 84,965 units, according to data released by Toyota Motor Thailand, the official compiler of automotive data in the country. Passenger vehicle sales grew by 26.8% y/y during the month to 33,160 units, while commercial vehicle (CV) sales climbed 28.6% y/y to 51,805 units. For the year to date (YTD), industry sales are up 18.0% y/y at 401,264 units, with passenger vehicle sales surging 16.0% y/y to 153,179 units and CV sales up 19.2% y/y at 248,085 units.
By brand, Toyota's sales surged 48.9% y/y to 26,630 units in May, giving it a market share of 31.3%. Isuzu came second with 14,336 units (up 17.9% y/y), followed by Honda with 10,420 units (up 4.1% y/y), Mitsubishi with 6,882 units (up 33.4% y/y), and Mazda with 5,881 units (up 48.4% y/y). In the YTD, Toyota has sold 113,947 units, an increase of 20.8% y/y. It was followed by Isuzu with 73,416 units (up 11.3% y/y), Honda with 49,289 units (up 1.5% y/y), Mitsubishi with 33,929 units (up 25.9% y/y), and Ford with 27,676 units (up 31.6% y/y).
Outlook and implications
Within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, Thailand is the second-largest market after Indonesia for light vehicles, including passenger vehicles and light commercial vehicles (LCVs). Thailand is set to account for 26.9% of ASEAN light-vehicle sales in 2018, according to IHS Markit's light-vehicle sales forecast data.
The strong growth in the country's new vehicle market during May can be attributed to new model launches, improved consumer confidence, increased private investment and government spending, and a recovering economy. IHS Markit expects that the aforementioned factors will boost vehicle sales further in the short term, according to our Thai light-vehicle sales forecasting analyst, Oracha Sakunbunma. We forecast that light-vehicle sales in Thailand will grow by 5.6% y/y to 896,078 units in 2018.
Pickups will remain the most popular body type in the country; this segment is expected to grow by 1.9% y/y to 371,522 units in 2018. However, its market share is expected to fall by 1.5 percentage points to 41.5% this year, due to changing consumer preferences. Thai consumers have been increasingly favouring passenger cars over pickups in recent years. Sales in the pickup category will be led by the Isuzu D-Max with 132,686 units, down 0.8% y/y. The pickup body type will be followed by sedans with sales of 206,039 units, up 2.2% y/y, capturing a market share of 23.0%. Sedans are popular among Thai consumers as they are perceived as conferring a higher social status. This category is expected to be led by the Honda City with sales of 35,315 units, up 1.0% y/y. Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) will follow as the third-largest category in 2018 with a market share of 16.4% and sales of 146,573 units, up 22.4% y/y. This body type has become more popular in recent years because of strong demand for pickup-based SUVs as well as rising demand for compact SUVs. Sales here will be led by the Toyota Fortuner with 24,220 units in 2018, up 3.2% y/y.
Looking further ahead, most of the automakers in Thailand have declared their sales targets and growth plans for 2018. They intend to fight for control of the local market by bringing out new models and expanding their dealership networks. Our forecasts show that about 40 new or refreshed models will be launched in the country in 2018.
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