Car shipment woes linger in March
Sharp drop in exports to Mideast markets
Thailand's car exports continued to decline in March despite reaching their highest volume in more than six months, according to the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).
The FTI's automotive club yesterday said March vehicle exports totalled 105,967 units, down 3.1%, with export value amounting to 54.4 billion baht, down 5.1%.
Club spokesman Surapong Paisitpatanapong said the drop was largely due to a sharp contraction in Middle East shipments, which plunged 54.1% in March to 10,192 vehicles, followed by Asia exports of 26,274, down 7.3%.
But shipments to North America were healthy with a surge of 143% to 9,197 vehicles, with those to Central and South America rising by 51.4% to 13,048 units.
Exports to Europe and Oceania also remained robust, with 15,231 and 28,850 units, up 3.8% and 1.1% respectively.
For the first three months, the FTI reported that car shipments fell by 7.6% to 284,301 units with export value of 148 billion baht, down 9.7%.
"We are now closely monitoring this bearish export situation," Mr Surapong said, adding that a revision of the car export forecast by the club is likely in July.
The FTI is maintaining its export forecast of 1.2 million cars this year.
At home, the FTI reported domestic car sales of 84,801 vehicles in March, up 16.7% from the same month last year and up 23.9% from February, due to active launches of new and refreshed passenger car models.
Passenger car sales shot up 40.9% last month to 33,482 units, with sales of pickup trucks rising by 15.8% to 35,826 units.
Domestic car sales from January to March stood at 210,490 units, up 15.9%.
"Market sentiment in Thailand is now very good thanks to higher farm product prices, the government's accelerated spending on megaprojects and the healthy tourism industry," Mr Surapong said.
He said 31,000 car bookings from the recent Bangkok International Motor Show are expected to be delivered during the second quarter, which will help boost overall car sales.
In a related development, the FTI reported yesterday that Thailand's car output fell by 7.3% year-on-year in March to 178,798 units, mainly because pickup truck production dropped by 13.1% to 103,775 units.
Nonetheless, March output was up 15.7% from February.
Overall car production during the first quarter totalled 485,555 units, down 4.2% from the same period last year.
Motorcycle output, meanwhile, rose by 11.3% in March to 235,782 units; production from January to March was 662,492 units, up 6.1%.
Motorcycle sales rose by 1.3% in March to 164,034 units, while sales in the first quarter totalled 461,783 units, an increase of 1.6%.