Chevrolet, part of US-based General Motors (GM), ended 2012 with record-breaking sales growth of 139% over 2011, thanks to the government's first-time car buyer scheme and strong post-flood demand.
The first-time car buyer scheme and strong post-flood demand carried Chevrolet to 139% sales growth in 2012, says Mr Apfel. APICHIT JINAKUL
Some 75,461 Chevrolet cars were sold last year, higher than the combined 66,733 units sold from 2009 through 2011.
"2012 was a very good year for us as we launched three new models, expanded our dealership and surpassed our sales from 2009 to 2011," said Martin Apfel, president of GM's Southeast Asia operations.
The industry expanded 80% in 2012 to sell 1.4 million vehicles, of which Chevrolet gained a market share of 5.3%, up by 1.3% the year before. Mr Apfel cited the first-time car buyer scheme for helping to increase vehicle sales, while demand carried over from 2011.
Industry growth for 2013 is expected to be lower at 1.2 million units to be sold. Chevrolet targets a 3% rise to top 100,000 units, he said.
"We will not grow much as an industry
[this year]. Exports should still exceed domestic sales," noted Mr Apfel, adding that competition will also intensify for products and services, but not prices.
The company will invest 1.5 billion baht to expand its dealer network to 120 by year-end from 93 in 2012.
To meet with increasing demand, Chevrolet has added more production shifts. It expects to hire 400 more staff this year, bringing total headcount to 6,000.
Mr Apfel said partnerships with technical colleges will be strengthened to provide a feeder pool of technicians to its dealers, currently facing a shortage.
Chevrolet will focus mainly on pickup truck and small car segments this year.
Pickup trucks, which accounted for 40-45% of Chevrolet's sales, are expected to post the strongest growth this year. The Colorado was the most popular non-Japanese one-tonne pickup truck last year, with sales of 37,310 vehicles or 295.5% higher than 2011.
While the daily minimum wage has increased, Mr Apfel said auto parts and energy make up a much larger share of production cost. The precise impacts of the wage hike on the industry will be known after a few months, he said.
GM sales in Asean grew 108% to 91,715 units last year, with high demand in Indonesia, Malaysia and Laos.
The company projects its manufacturing facility in Indonesia will reach full production in the first half of this year. Also, it will expand dealerships in Cambodia and see its first car sale in Myanmar this year.
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- Writer: Soonya Vanichkorn