The outlook for the Thai auto industry in 2013 remains bright, partially propelled by the demand from export markets.
Last year the industry attracted more than Bt100 billion in terms of additional investment from auto and auto-parts makers. Sales surged by 70 per cent to achieve a record 1.4 million vehicles, thanks to demand carried over from flood-stricken 2011 and the first-car-buyer programme. More than a million people received excise tax rebates a year after making their purchase.
This year's auto production is targeted at 2.5 million units, said Suparat Sirisuwannangkura, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI)'s Automotive Industry Club (AIC), with about 1.3-1.4 million for the domestic market.
"The reason sales will remain at the same level as 2012 is because there is a large amount of back orders carried over from 2012 - as many as 500,000 vehicles covering the third quarter of 2013. However, we also predict that as much as 30 per cent of the orders from the first-car-buyer scheme may disappear because some applicants may not pass the requirements and some may not have true purchasing power," Suparat said.
In this regard, the export market is expected to support the industry.
"Don't forget that in 2012 we held back exports to supply the domestic market. So it should not be difficult to achieve 2.5-million-unit production while also maintaining the export market," he said.
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