Domestic car sales in March rose 9.1% from a year earlier to 87,245 units, helped by improved economic activity following an easing of coronavirus curbs and relief measures, the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) said on Monday.
Higher-than-expected bookings during the Bangkok International Motor Show between late March and early April were also a boost, Surapong Paisitpattanapong, a spokesman for FTI’s automotive industry division, told a news conference.
In the first quarter of 2022, car sales jumped 19.1% from a year earlier to 231,189 vehicles, he said. “Given a very strong first quarter, there is a high chance that car sales will reach 900,000 units this year, exceeding our target,” he said. Earlier, the FTI forecast domestic car sales of 800,000 to 850,000 vehicles and exports of 950,000 to 1 million cars.
Thailand is a regional vehicle production and export base for the world’s top carmakers, including Toyota, Honda and Mitsubishi.
The industry accounts for about 10% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and its manufacturing jobs.
However, exports of cars dropped by 10.2% year-on-year to 93,840 vehicles in March and fell by 5.8% to 243,124 units in the January-March period, due partly to a shortage of microchips for some car models, Surapong said.
In February, domestic car sales rose 26.3% year-on-year to 74,489 cars, while auto shipments dipped 0.02% to 79,451.
During the first three months of the year, the country’s auto production climbed 3.06 percent from one year earlier to 480,078 units. In March alone, its auto production expanded 6.25 percent from one year earlier and rose 10.93 percent from February this year, according to the FTI.
The shortage of auto parts and semiconductors has affected exports of many car models to the Australian, European and Asian markets, and the FTI expressed concerns that the Russia-Ukraine conflict might further exacerbate the shortage of raw materials, auto parts and semiconductors.