Isuzu, Thailand's second-largest pickup truck manufacturer, expects zero growth for domestic sales next year, as it has to set aside some output to accommodate rising exports.
Isuzu's new plant at Gateway City Industrial Estate in Chachoengsao province is still struggling to meet the massive demand both at home and abroad, said Kyoya Kondo, executive vice-president of Tri Petch Isuzu Sales Co, the Thai unit of the Japanese automaker.
Coupled with the output of its existing plant in Samut Prakan, Isuzu's combined pickup truck capacity is about 430,000 units per year.
The leading Japanese truck maker is set to deliver 210,000 trucks this year, excluding backlog orders for which customers have to wait for at least four months from now.
''We have to honour the export contracts. We therefore are forced to contain the volume of domestic sales next year,'' said Mr Kondo.
About 40% of production is destined for exports this year. The proportion will increase to 50% next year, which means domestic sales will be cut to 50% from 60% this year.
Mr Kondo said the growing local economy and the first-time car buyer policy had encouraged all brands to increase their capacities to meet rising demand.
Thailand's domestic sales for all vehicles are expected to reach a record 1.4 million units this year.
When the first-time car buyer policy ends next year, the growth momentum of the domestic automobile market will continue but local sales will decrease by between 5-10% from this year's level.
Mr Kondo expressed concern that the worker shortage would pose a problem for vehicle production, while the strong baht would affect production costs and the country's competitiveness.
Isuzu last Friday introduced the all-new Isuzu D-MAX X-Series pickup. The new model comes with a 2,500-cc DOHC 16-valve turbo and five-speed automatic transmission.
It also celebrated on Friday a milestone of producing three million vehicles in Thailand including heavy-duty trucks. The first vehicle was made here in 1963.
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- Writer: Santan Santivimolnat