Thai new vehicle sales jump in February 2019
[Excerpt of an AutoIntelligence Daily article from IHS Markit]
New vehicle sales in Thailand grew 9.1% y/y during February to 82,324 units, according to data released by Toyota Motor Thailand, the official compiler of automotive data in the country. Passenger vehicle sales jumped 9.2% y/y during the month to 32,338 units, while commercial vehicle (CV) sales climbed 9.0% y/y to 49,986 units.
During the first two months of 2019, industry sales were up 12.9% y/y at 160,385 units, with passenger vehicle sales up 13.0% y/y to 62,559 units and CV sales up 12.9% y/y to 97,826 units.
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 29.3% of ASEAN light-vehicle sales in 2019, according to IHS Markit's forecast data.
New vehicle sales in Thailand remained in positive territory during February for the 26th consecutive month. The strong growth in the country's new vehicle market during the month can be attributed to new model launches, improved consumer confidence, increased private investment and government spending, a recovering economy, and attractive sales promotion campaigns from automakers.
In 2019, IHS Markit expects new vehicle demand in Thailand to rise slowly, mainly due to a high base of comparison and increasing household debt, especially among middle-income consumers, according to IHS Markit's Thai light-vehicle sales forecasting analyst, Oracha Sakunbunma. We forecast that light-vehicle sales in Thailand will grow by 3.1% y/y to 1.04 million units in 2019, on the back of moderate economic growth, high consumer confidence, increased political stability after the general election, and competitive sales promotions. IHS Markit expects the Thai economy to grow by 3.9% this year thanks to improved private and government spending on infrastructure projects, ample tourism revenue, and a strong export performance. Consumer confidence and private consumption are also expected to receive a boost from pre-election stimulus packages. In addition, the end of a five-year obligation under the first-time car buyer scheme is expected to continue to drive new car purchases. Therefore, high sales promotions are expected from most OEMs as they look to retain their market share as the market recovers.
However, there are some concerning factors that may dampen the market's growth. These include global economic uncertainty owing to the ongoing trade war between the US and China; post-election uncertainty if the elected coalition government is not well accepted by a large majority of Thai citizens; an expected increase in the policy interest rate; and a continued decline in Chinese tourism as tourists increasingly favour other ASEAN countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, or Vietnam, according to Sakunbunma.
Automakers in the country have announced their targets for 2019. 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 50 new or refreshed models will be launched in the country this year.
Toyota Motor Thailand expects the Thai new vehicle market to decline by 3.8% y/y to 1 million units in 2019. This is split between passenger vehicle sales of 384,900 units, down 3.2% y/y, and CV sales of 615,100 units, down 4.1% y/y.
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