The Japanese car maker Nissan expects its sales to drop by 110,000-120,000 units in fiscal 2013 starting in April, as domestic demand is returning to normal after the first-time car buyer scheme expired.
According to Takayuki Kimura, president of Nissan Motor (Thailand), the company's sales for both passenger cars and pickup trucks are estimated at 132,000 units for fiscal 2012, ending on March 31 this year.
Such a sales figure would represent a nearly 72.5% surge from the 76,525 units sold in fiscal 2011.
Domestic sales make up half of Nissan's sales, with the balance from exports.
Nissan's existing plant on Bang Na-Trat Road in Samut Prakan province makes 220,000 pickup trucks and passenger cars a year.
The company last year announced an ambitious plan to build a new 11-billion-baht factory next to the Samut Prakan factory on 150 rai, a move aimed at sustaining Nissan's growth across Southeast Asia.
The new plant will have an initial production schedule of 75,000 vehicles a year when it starts up in August 2014, doubling to 150,000 within a few years.
The factory will focus on making pickup trucks, which are no longer built at Nissan's existing factory after production was moved to the Mitsubishi Motors plant in Laem Chabang, Chon Buri.
Once the second plant is running at full capacity, Nissan will have an annual production capacity of 370,000 vehicles (excluding the 60,000 Navara pickups now built at Mitsubishi's factory).
Nissan, founded as a local business entity in 1952, was the first Japanese car maker to do business in Thailand.
The seven Nissan models in the Thai market are the Teana, Sylphy, Tiida, Almera, March, X-Trail and Navara.
According to Mr Kimura, Nissan plans to launch the new Pulsar model in Thailand in the first quarter of 2013. The Pulsar is a hatchback aimed at younger buyers.
By the end of 2013, Nissan plans to expand to 210 showrooms and service centres nationwide, up from 180-190 now.
Mr Kimura said the market trend this year is towards vehicles with an engine size between 1.6 and 1.8 litres, as this segment was not entitled to the tax rebate under the first-time buyer scheme.
"Nissan is not strong in the car segment with an engine size from 1.6 to 2.0 litres, but we do well in eco-cars," he said.
Nissan forecasts a decline in total auto sales this year of 10-15% to between 1 million and 1.2 million units.
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Writer: Piyachart Maikaew