Nissan predicts stable sales next year in Thai market

Japanese carmaker Nissan expects its Thailand sales to exceed 100,000 units in 2014, saying the Thai economy will remain stable in the year to come.

Toshiyuki Shiga (right), chief operating officer of Nissan Motor, and Takayuki Kimura, president of Nissan Motor (Thailand), unveil the Teana luxury sedan yesterday. Engines vary from 2.0 to 2.5 litres priced from 1.27-1.62 million baht. Nissan targets sales of 10,000 units per year.

Takayuki Kimura, president of Nissan Motor (Thailand), said the company is still upbeat about sales prospects in fiscal 2014, starting in April, with sales estimated at 100,000 units or above. But Mr Kimura admitted yesterday the company expected fiscal 2013, ending on March 31 next year, to end with sales of only 100,000 units, down from 20,000 units from projections and 138,000 units in fiscal 2012.

"Market demand in Thailand almost disappeared the first six months of the fiscal year," he said, citing the government's first-time car buyer scheme as a key factor.

He added the overall market has seen much more aggressive sales competition and new model launches after automakers fulfilled their back orders from the scheme.

Nissan unveiled its new Teana yesterday, the third generation of its luxury sedan, priced from 1.27-1.62 million baht. The company aims to sell 10,000 units of Teana over the next 12 months.

Nissan Motor (Thailand) is the second production base for the Teana after Japan to serve domestic and export sales. Nissan's plant on Bang Na-Trat Road in Samut Prakan makes 220,000 passenger cars including the Teana a year.

Last year, it announced an ambitious plan to build an 11-billion-baht factory adjacent to its existing one in Samut Prakan.

The factory covering 150 rai would include a production line, research and development centre and a test course in a move aimed at sustaining Nissan's growth across Southeast Asia. The plant will have a production schedule of 75,000 vehicles a year when it starts operating in August 2014, doubling to 150,000 within a few years.

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 pickup trucks now built at Mitsubishi's factory. Nissan plans to move Navara pickup production to the new plant.

Mr Kimura said earlier Nissan plans to sell 500,000 vehicles in Asean in fiscal 2016, with its market share rising to over 15%.

For fiscal 2012, Nissan sold 260,000 vehicles in Asean for a 7.2% share. It has production facilities in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

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Writer: Piyachart Maikaew
Position: Business Reporter