Auto parts shipments are expected to grow by at least 25% this year in line with the flourishing automotive industry.
The Thai Autoparts Manufacturers Association (Tapma) expects exports will total US$15 billion this year, up from $11-12 billion last year. "Prospects remain promising on the back of surging automobile and motorcycle production," said president Achana Limpaitoon.
Thailand's automotive industry enjoyed a bumper year in 2012, with vehicle production totalling 2.45 million units, up by 68.3% from 2011 and lifting Thailand to 10th place among global automobile producers.
Motorcycle production reached 3.14 million units, up by 6.57%.
The Federation of Thai Industries' automotive industry club said domestic automobile sales totalled 1.43 million vehicles last year, up by 80.9% from 2011, while motorcycle sales rose by 6.11% to 2.13 million.
This year, 2.5 million automobiles will be produced, up by 2%, with 1.4 million slated for domestic sales and 1.1 million for export.
Tapma said exports account for 48% of Thailand's auto parts industry.
Some 80% of export value stems from original-equipment manufacturing and the rest from the auto parts aftermarket.
Thailand is currently the top Asean auto parts exporter, mainly to Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brazil.
"Thai auto parts makers have more than 50 years' experience, but the mantle could shift to Indonesia once its automotive industry becomes fully developed," said Mrs Achana.
She recommends auto parts makers brace themselves for higher production costs induced mainly by the nationwide hike in the daily minimum wage to 300 baht at the start of the year.
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Writer: Piyachart Maikaew