Sime Darby, a major Malaysian industrial group, expects its Thai automotive sales to drop this year on lower demand.
Steven Teo Chin Hun, the managing director of Sime Darby (Thailand), predicts domestic sales will drop by 20-40% this year from 6,000 last year.
Most car makers project domestic sales will drop to 1.1 to 1.2 million units after a bumper year in 2012 due to the government's first-time car buyer tax rebate.
Domestic sales hit 1.43 million vehicles last year, up by 80.9% from 2011, while motorcycle sales reached 2.13 million units, up by 6.11%.
Thailand produced 2.45 million vehicles last year, a 68.3% jump from 2011, lifting Thailand to 10th place among the world's car producers.
Car exports also increased by 39.6% last year to 1,026,671 vehicles, the most since the country began shipments in 1988, making Thailand the world's seventh-largest car exporter.
"Reservations dropped this year, but we expect the market to slowly recover by year-end," said Mr Teo.
Sime Darby (Thailand) is the authorised dealer for BMW, Mazda and Ford, operating nine showrooms and service centres in Bangkok _ two for BMW, five for Mazda and two for Ford.
Sime Darby Vantage (Thailand) or SDVT, the wholly owned subsidiary of Sime Darby (Thailand), was appointed as the official dealer by Ford Sales & Service (Thailand) late last year.
It set up two Ford showrooms in Bangkok, in Lat Krabang district late last year and on Sukhaphiban 3 Road last month.
SDVT, which will deal solely with Ford cars, will open more branches in Bangkok late this year or early next and is negotiating with three car makers, said Mr Teo.
Sime Darby (Thailand) started here in 2001 as a Chevrolet dealer, operating three showrooms, but all have closed.
The Malaysian parent operates three businesses in Thailand _ a power plant at Laem Chabang Industrial Estate under Sime Darby O&M (Thailand), a joint-venture insurance broker with Saha Union Plc named Union Sime Darby (Thailand) and a palm oil manufacturer and distributor named Morakot Industries Plc.
Sime Darby Bhd has six core businesses _ plantations, property, industrial, motors, energy and utilities, and health care in 20 countries. Last year's group revenue totalled 47.6 billion ringgit (469 billion baht), up by 13.7% from 2011.
About the author
- Writer: Piyachart Maikaew
Position: Business Reporter