Isuzu eyes truck sales gains

Isuzu eyes truck sales gains

Japanese truck maker Isuzu Motors Ltd is bullish on its Thai sales this year after a 22.3% decline last year.

Hiroshi Nakagawa, president of Tri Petch Isuzu Sales Co, the local distribution arm, said company sales were expected to grow at the same rate as the overall market for pickups and commercial vehicles.

Sales growth of 5-9% is expected this year from last year's sales of 160,286 pickups and commercial trucks.

As much as 90% of the company's sales come from one-tonne pickup trucks, including pickup passenger vehicles, with the rest from trucks.

Sales of Isuzu surged to 220,000 vehicles in 2012 and 206,000 vehicles in 2013, fuelled by the government's first-time car buyer tax rebate.

"We're optimistic about market prospects, particularly in the second half of the year when the government's megaprojects and budget disbursement will run at full throttle," he said. "But sales in the first half may remain tepid."

The Federation of Thai Industries' automotive industry club reported domestic car sales fell sharply by 33.7% last year to 881,832 vehicles. Of the total, 511,993 vehicles were commercial vehicles, down 26.8%, with passenger cars falling by 42.5% to 362,705.

Thailand's commercial vehicle market was dominated by Toyota (34.2%) and Isuzu (31.3%) last year, followed by Mitsubishi (7.7%), Ford (6%), Nissan (5.6%), Mazda (3.6%) and Chevrolet (3.6%).

Mr Nakagawa said the Tokyo-based parent company did not see any need for expansion in the foreseeable future for its Samut Prakan and Chachoengsao factories, as annual production capacity of 366,000 vehicles is enough to cover both domestic sales and exports.

The two plants run by Isuzu Motors Co (Thailand) now utilise about 80% of combined production capacity.

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